Carol Concert Celebrates Prisoner Learners

25 Nov 2014

PET is holding its annual carol concert on Tuesday 2nd December 2014 at 6:30pm in St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, London with guest humanitarian author Terry Waite who will be speaking about Christmas in captivity.

Tickets are still available at £20 and all proceeds raised from this event will enable prisoner learners to access vital courses, books and course materials which would otherwise be unavailable to them.

Concert-goers will also hear from PET alumnus Junior Smart. This year, seven years since leaving prison, Junior won awards for Adult Learners’ Week, the Charity Awards and was named one of London's most influential people by the Evening Standard for his work at charity St Giles Trust helping young people exit gang crime.

At primary school Junior was told he would fail. Years later he found himself in prison facing a 10 year sentence after getting involved in a south London gang. But during his sentence he decided to focus on education, with support from staff and PET which he says was ‘central to his success’ and gave him an opportunity to change his life.

Junior was supported by PET to study an Open University degree in the arts. This helped prepare him for further study after he was released from prison and in 2013 he was awarded a 1st class BA hons degree in Youth Work. Junior said: “I would never have attempted uni without the previous support from PET whilst I was in custody." Now he helps hundreds of young Londoners while he studies for a Master’s degree in Criminology and Youth Justice.

Junior is looking forward to spending Christmas with his family and said:

“At Christmas I always make time for my family after so many years of being separated from them. Even though I will be surrounded by loved ones, I always spend time contemplating all those people in prison and how hard it is for them around this time of year.”

Rod Clark, PET Chief Executive, said: “Learning helps people in prison develop self esteem and builds confidence, and this in turn has a positive impact on relationships with friends and family. Support from families is essential to help people re-build their lives when they leave prison. If we want people to move away from crime, we must give them the support to change. A gift to Prisoners’ Education Trust this Christmas will be an investment into prisoners’ futures in 2015.”

Christmas carols will be sung by London choir Fever Pitch and visitors will hear a range of traditional readings from PET supporters and a few words from the sister of one of our learners. Donate to PET or buy tickets via Just Giving or if you would prefer to pay by cheque write to us at Prisoners’ Education Trust, The Foundry, 17-19 Oval Way, London SE11 5RR.

PET has been selected to take part in a Christmas Giving Challenge with Big Give. Donations given online after 10am on the 4th, 5th and 6th December could be matched. The Challenge lies in making the donation as close to 10am as possible. Donations can be made via www.bit.ly/PETBigGive2014

About Us

Since 1989, Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) has supported prisoners to engage in rehabilitation through learning. The charity does this by providing advice and funding for approximately 2,000 people per year for distance learning courses in subjects and levels not generally available in prisons. PET also carries out research, informed by prisoner learners, to improve prison education policies.

Editor’s Notes:

For phone interview requests with Junior or PET staff, ex-prisoners’ case studies, stock prison photos or further information please contact Hannah Richards, Fundraising and Communications Officer, hannah@prisonerseducation.org.uk; 020 37525680; www.prisonerseducation.org.uk.

A recent report was carried out by the MoJ Justice Data Lab, published in January 2014 which shows people supported by PET to study distance learning courses in prison are more than a quarter less likely to reoffend than a matched control group of other ex-prisoners.