Engaging Minds Strengthens Bronzefield Resident’s Employability

August 29, 2018

Engaging Minds Strengthens Bronzefield Resident’s Employability

A significant proportion of the women that come through the doors of HMP Bronzefield have experienced trauma in their lives. It is this trauma that has often led to them committing the crimes for which they find themselves in prison and can also contribute to a lack of confidence and undermining of a person’s self-worth.

At the core of our work is the need to rehabilitate the women in our care and reduce reoffending so that women leaving Bronzefield will become contributing members of society.

In order to achieve this goal it is imperative that we recruit the best Prison Custody Officers to the role, so we commissioned Engaging Minds to help us to profile the strengths of our best officers. Their work enabled us to understand what it is about our PCOs that makes them great at the job they do and how we can recruit others with similar strengths, motivators and values.

Following our successful implementation of this programme, together with Engaging Minds Director Sally Bibb, we identified that providing our residents with an understanding of their strengths; this work could be highly beneficial to them.  It could help boost self-esteem, give them renewed confidence in themselves and the positive things they can achieve.

We launched a pilot Strengths programme for the women of HMP Bronzefield in April.  The programme ran over the course of two full days and was designed to give the women the self-insight and tools to help them build and sustain self-belief, build self-confidence and therefore increase their employability.

The first part of the course was based around workshops and group work designed to encourage the women to think about the areas where their strengths naturally lie; to map out these strengths; and over the following two weeks to keep a diary of their strengths, when they used them, how it made them and others feel so they would start to gain greater insight of their strengths.  The second session involved individual time with the course facilitators to share how they have been getting on with their strengths profile and to gain further support. Following this the group came together to reflect on how they might use their strengths while in prison and once released and to further consolidate their own strengths.

The women said that it had been a “really eye-opening experience”; “I realised I had strengths that I wouldn’t normally consider a strength.”; “It has given me a boost and confidence for the future”; “It makes you feel good about yourself and helps you to realise that you are worth more than you thought”.

Andrew Jones, course facilitator from Engaging Minds said; “ I was deeply moved by the opportunity to work with the staff and residents of Bronzefield on The Strengths Programme. Each and every woman on the programme had done tremendous work to get to the point of being selected for it.  They shared strengths with us and with each other.  We helped them to capture and articulate these to help them continue on their journey to become who they want to be.  It is clear that the staff and the ethos at Bronzefield can create the conditions and engender the appetite for women to transform their lives”.

Ian Whiteside, Director of HMP Bronzefield said; “The Engaging Minds Strengths Programme has been a wholly motivating experience that has boosted the confidence the women have in themselves and has demonstrated it to be a truly innovative and adaptable piece of work that has helped to embed the focus on strengths and the things you can achieve when you focus on these. The women who took part have been extremely positive about the course and have taken away the knowledge and belief in themselves to improve their employability prospects on release”.

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