An end of year message from our CEO, Vicki Cardwell:
“As we reach the end of the year, our thoughts continue to be first and foremost with the young people in prison during the pandemic, who are facing unthinkable challenges. But looking back, it’s astonishing what we achieved in 2020, despite the unforeseen challenges.
I’m filled with gratitude for the entire Spark Inside team, and our funders and supporters, for truly living our values – sticking together, innovating, not giving up and keeping those in prison at the heart of our decisions.
With these values we have been able to offer coaching to frontline prison staff during lockdowns and to now be offering coaching to young people in the community – more of which below.
While for the majority of the year we weren’t able to coach the young people inside prison due to the pandemic, I’m filled with hope as we gear-up to re-start our face to face coaching programmes and advisory boards in the New Year (we are already doing some coaching over the phone in prisons). With an incredible group of staff, coaches, and trustees, we can continue to achieve big things. Ending 2020 with a new Chair, Erica Handling, will ensure we enter 2021 as a confident and robust charity.
With our new and existing funders and supporters by our side, we are looking forward to making a difference to more people living and working in prison through the power of coaching.
Thank you for weathering the storm with us, and here’s a look-back on some of our highlights this year…”
3 months during the pandemic, our life coaches delivered messages of support through prison radio, so that the young people knew we hadn’t forgotten about them. We also sent letters, set up Email a Prisoner for our coaches, and set up a Freephone number to ensure young people could reach us. Staying in touch was our biggest priority and you can find out more about how we did that here.
4 new members of the Spark Inside Board! Including our new Chair, Erica Handling, a new Treasurer, Josephine Lyseight and two former Board Fellows, who are now Trustees – Sophie Ruddock and Stephanie Davin. Find out more them and the rest of our fantastic Board here.
5 young men in HMPYOI Isis asked to join the already fully-subscribed Hero’s Journey™ from a Black Perspective workshop, after a participant in the pilot returned to his wing and told them about the programme! The pilot of our life coaching programme, which was tailored to address the unique experiences of young black men in prison, was a huge success and we’re looking forward to re-starting the pilot in the New Year. Read more about it here.
6 London Borough Youth Offending Services (YOS) are working with us to coach young people in the community that were recently released from custody, or at risk of entering. We end the year having officially partnered with both Lewisham YOS and Southwark YOS, and are close to starting the partnerships with four others. Pivoting our services to the community ensures we can still help young people, despite ongoing restrictions inside prisons. Read more about the programme here.
10 pieces of key media coverage gained, to shine a light on the challenges young people are facing in prison during the pandemic, being locked away for 23 hours a day with little human contact or support. We felt it was right for us to advocate on their behalf, and we will continue to do so. Take a look at some of our media coverage here.
20 Criminal Justice organisations came together with us, as part of the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group (RR3) to build a strong and effective partnership with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Chaired by Clinks, it’s been a channel to record concerns and questions during the pandemic and we will continue to use this forum to help make a difference. You can read about what else we’ve been doing in partnership with others in the sector to advocate for those in prison.
100 hours of life coaching were delivered to prison staff, as part of pivoting our services in response to the pandemic. All prison officers coached said they would recommend it to other prison staff and some staff felt it transformed the way they interacted with the young people living in prison. We look forward to releasing our report of this initiative in the New Year and you can read a blog from James, one of prison officers we coached this year.
106 young men consulted via our in-prison advisory boards. Ideas and feedback from these boards resulted in improvements and innovation, including the design of Hero’s Journey™ from a Black Perspective. The boards will be one of the first things we set up again in the New Year, and you can find out more about the changes they suggested and were acted on here.
350 young men we have coached were surveyed over the last 3 years, and our impact report was released this year, showing that we made a clear, positive impact on their lives, including on wellbeing, future outlook, decision-making and problem-solving skills, empathy and emotional intelligence, resilience and confidence. Read the summary and full report here.
362 people watched our conversation with former Prisons Minister Rory Stewart live! We asked Rory, ‘Is here hope for our prisons?’, and if you missed it, you can watch the conversation in full here. Look out for further Spark Inside events next year!
57,793 pounds were raised through our Big Give Christmas Challenge match-funding campaign! These funds will help young people in prison overcome the impact of Covid-19. Thank you to everybody that donated – what a great way to end what’s been a tough year! Read more about the campaign here.