Daniel* is 23 years old and was sentenced in 2014 to 5 years imprisonment for robbery and possession of a weapon. He had experienced a very volatile childhood and was adopted at the age of 8 years old. When Daniel turned 17, his adoptive mother died suddenly and Daniel was unable to cope with the pain. He turned to drugs and alcohol to block out his feelings and developed a chronic addiction.
Daniel’s addiction led to him stealing from and abusing people, emotionally as well as physically over a number of years. By the time he came to prison he was carrying vast amounts of guilt and shame and believed that there was no positive future ahead for him. Whilst in prison, Daniel contemplated taking his own life.
Daniel had heard about the Khulisa Programme through a fellow inmate who suggested he might benefit from the programme. During the pre-programme assessment, it became clear that Daniel was very depressed and unable even to make eye contact. He had been let down by a series of people in his life and found it difficult to trust others.
Daniel describes his experience of the Khulisa programme:
"The Khulisa programme really helped me to regain my confidence. I like the feeling in the group room that the facilitators created where we were able to discuss topics without judgement or criticism. It was so nice to be accepted by the other participants and for them to value me and listen to my views. I realised that the behaviour that led me coming into prison wasn't really the ‘true me’. The real me is a decent, caring man and the facilitators saw my potential which allowed me to see it in myself. The Khulisa course gave me back the voice that I had lost and never thought I would find again"
Daniel's support workers identified the following benefits in him taking part in the Khulisa programme:
- An increase in confidence and self esteem - which led to him applying for jobs within the prison and obtaining a trusted role working on the wings.
- An increase in motivation - since completing the Programme Daniel has been attending the prison gym. Prior to this he had found it impossible to get the motivation to do any exercise.
- More able to identify goals for the future - Daniel was able to work through how he would like his life to be in the future and set realistic goals to obtain this.
- Improved ability to identify triggers and manage emotions - after the programme, Daniel was able to deal with conflict situations in a more positive way by thinking about the impact of his actions in relation to his goals
*Participant names and images have been changed to protect privacy
Khulisa’s flagship programme Silence the Violence (STV) has been delivered in HMP YOI Isis since 2012. The prison is a Young Offenders Institute based in South East London, holding category C offenders between the ages of 18-30. Just over a quarter of the population at Isis prison are white British with the around 75% from BME backgrounds. Just under 75% are under the age of 25 and the vast majority of sentences are linked to gang involvement.
The prison environment is ever changing with staffing levels having decreased significantly over the last few years and levels of violence increasing within the prison estate. At times this has presented challenges for the delivery of the STV programme and Khulisa have responded to these by implementing more flexible models for delivery.
Offenders within HMP YOI Isis were assessed against Khulisa’s ‘participant profile’ before being enrolled on the Programme. The criteria evaluates areas such as the participant's motivation to want to attend sessions, their awareness and recognition that their violent behaviour needs to be addressed and the desire to learn new coping skills which will help them in the future.
Over the three year period, 167 Offenders completed the Khulisa programme at Isis prison:
- 150 participants attended the 5 day Silence The Violence programme. This is Khulisa’s ‘core model’ which is comprised of facilitated group work for 5 days either consecutively or split over 2 weeks followed by a series of post programme 1-1s
- 17 participants attended the 1 or 2 day intensive version of the Silence the Violence programme that was introduced in 2015 to accommodate those Offenders who were adverse to group work (due to mental health issues such as anxiety,or through fear of reprisal) and who would otherwise not have engaged with any intervention. This is also followed up by a series of post-programme 1-1 sessions
Khulisa worked collaboratively with other prison staff and organisations within HMP YOI Isis to try and implement effective and sustainable change within the individual in custody and after release. Offender Supervisors within the prison are an integral part of the Offender's journey, they oversee the Offender's ‘sentence plan’ and are the main referral pathway for Offenders undertaking the STV programme within Isis prison.
"I have managed a number of Offenders who have completed the STV programme and have seen how they have embraced the intervention and used the techniques they have learnt to improve their overall behaviour and reduce incidents of violence within the establishment." - Offender Supervisor HMP YOI Isis
At HMP Isis, Khulisa's programme proved to be highly effective in reducing re-offending, only 7% of participants went on to re-offend (vs a control group of more than 30%).