Woman runs first marathon for prisoners

4 Apr 2014

A 24 year old woman from Essex is preparing for her first marathon to fundraise for the charity PET on Sunday 13 April 2014.

Jennifer Branch will be joining 30,000 people taking to the capital’s streets for the Virgin London Marathon to complete the 26.2 mile race. With a fundraising target of £1,500 Jenny’s goal is to enable prisoners to change their lives through education by studying courses such as GCSEs, A-Levels and vocational diplomas.

Jennifer Branch after London Marathon

Jennifer Branch, who is currently living in Birmingham, said:

“I’m fairly new to running, but I’ve done a half marathon and I get a buzz out of really pushing myself so I decided I wanted to take on my biggest challenge yet for a good cause. One evening when I was talking to my boyfriend’s aunt at a dinner party she told me about the charity Prisoners' Education Trust and her role as its Chair of Trustees.

“I began to realise how difficult it is for people to move on from a life of crime without the right opportunities and what a difference studying a course could make. Enabling people to gain the skills and knowledge to change their own lives is really inspiring and I wanted to do what I could to support them.”

Alexandra Marks, PET’s Chair of Trustees, said:

“We’re so grateful to Jennifer for taking on this impressive challenge. Her efforts will raise vital funds for PET, and awareness of the importance of education in rehabilitating people in prison. Please support and encourage her; your donation will make a real difference.

“We know that learning in prison works. The Government’s own analysis of our work shows it reduces reoffending by more than a quarter*. This recent research powerfully reinforces the personal stories we hear from prisoners who use education as a route away from offending towards better lives outside.”

Jennifer’s willpower will be pushed to the limit as she hopes to complete the race in five hours. Last weekend she completed a 20 mile run in preparation for the marathon and adds: “I am so excited about taking on this challenge and can't wait for race day.”

To help Jennifer achieve her target of funding educational courses for prisoners, sponsor her by visiting www.justgiving.com/Jennifer-Branch.

To find out more about PET visit www.prisonerseducation.org.uk or to fundraise for us email event@prisonerseducation.org.uk.

Editor’s Notes

For interview requests with Jennifer or PET staff, ex-prisoners’ case studies, photos or further information please contact Hannah Richards, Fundraising and Communications Officer, hannah@prisonerseducation.org.uk; 020 8648 7760 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 a quarter less likely to reoffend than other ex-prisoners.

About PET

This year Prisoners' Education Trust (PET) celebrates its 25th anniversary. The charity was set up in HMP Wandsworth by a prison teacher and a barrister in 1989 who wanted to offer a wider range of courses to prisoners. That year, PET helped 12 people, now the charity supports approx. 2,000 each year to study distance learning courses across England and Wales. The charity does this by providing advice and funding for prisoners keen to study subjects and levels not generally available in prisons. PET also carries out research, informed by prisoner learners, to improve prison education.

In 2012 PET launched the Prisoner Learning Alliance to work together with 18 other expert organisations to champion learning for people in prison.