Six voluntary sector organisations providing rehabilitation services and supporting racial equity & wellbeing in prisons have come together to form a coalition calling on the Government to deliver tailored services to meet the needs of young men — particularly young Black men — in prisons.
The mental wellbeing and health of young people living in prisons has suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of reduced contact with loved ones, reduced time outside cells, and reduced access to educational provision. In addition, there is an ongoing and stark disparity of outcomes and experiences for people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the criminal justice system.
Following its launch in late 2021, the Being Well Being Equal campaign has received national media attention and support from stakeholders. The founding members of the Being Well Being Equal alliance have now agreed to pool information, identify best practice, and campaign together for tailored wellbeing services in prisons.
The founding members of the Being Well Being Equal alliance are:
The Race Equality Foundation explores evidence of discrimination and disadvantage and use that knowledge to help overcome barriers and promote race equality in public services, including health, housing, and social care.
The Zahid Mubarek Trust was established to maintain and grow the legacy for change following Zahid Mubarek’s tragic death, advocating for safety and wellbeing of prisoners and race equality in prison.
Spark Inside Spark Inside uses coaching to unlock the potential of individuals and drive culture change in the criminal justice system so that rehabilitation is possible.
Commenting on the need for improved wellbeing services in prison, a young man with lived experience of prison told us:
“I think a lot of people just need someone just to vent to, and just talking to someone is just relieving yourself of the stress. Like they don’t have to solve your problems, but I think just listen to it, just try and help them out a bit more and take your time with the person you’re dealing with in those situations, because there’s gonna be a lot of things going through whoever’s mind at that time”.
Jabeer Butt OBE, CEO of the Race Equality Foundation said:
“Structural inequalities within our systems are denying too many communities a fair chance in life. There is clear evidence on the over-representation of Black individuals in prison and on the complex issues Black and minority ethnic communities experience in terms of mental health; with Black people 4 times as likely as White to be detained under the Mental Health Act, with Black men more likely to come into contact with mental health services the criminal justice system. We have long urged policymakers to take action to improve the experience of Black and minority ethnic people in prison, as well as improve timely access to mental health services. We’ve joined this campaign to play our part in turning words into action.”
Spark Inside acts as a hub organisation for the Being Well Being Equal alliance. We are currently gathering evidence on best practice in working with young men – particularly young Black men – in prisons and would welcome hearing from organisations and individuals with expertise and experience to share. To submit evidence to the alliance or for a wider discussion please contact Tim Connolly, Policy & Campaigns Manager at Spark Inside at firstname.lastname@example.org.