Learners' Stories

Over the past 25 years Prisoners' Education Trust (PET) has helped thousands of people in prison.

We regularly receive letters from our learners and alumni about their achievements both in prison and back in their communities. People like Frank, who had been in and out of prison for more than 30 years before he found his ‘way out’ of crime through education. He is now in his final year at university. Search for their stories, experiences and views below. Some of their letters highlight the barriers that prevent people from learning in prison and through PET's work championing prison education we seek to address their concerns. 

 

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    Simon: “Education and books set me free.”

    Ex-prisoners | Distance learning

    Simon Short, 31, has spent the past three and half years since leaving prison developing a social enterprise that aims to reduce reoffending after he studied an Open University degree funded by Prisoners Education Trust (PET) in Psychology during his sentence. He says: “Education and books set me free.”

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    Juan: "Education helped me cope during my sentence."

    All | Distance learning

    Education helped Juan*, now 43, cope with an eight year prison sentence. As well as developing his love of learning and helping others by assisting the teacher in class, he says education felt safe. Juan said: “Education helps to cut violence, bullying and self-harming.”

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    Julio develops a career as an artist

    Ex-prisoners | Arts

    With no prior experience of painting, Julio Osorio became a prolific artist in prison, producing 60 paintings, one of which is currently being exhibited in London’s prestigious Southbank Centre until 30 November 2014.

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    Jermaine: volunteering on temporary release

    All | Resettlement

    As a volunteer helping unemployed people to find work, each day 35 year old Jermaine leaves prison on temporary release he uses the skills he learned studying Open University business courses with support from Prisoners' Education Trust (PET).

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    Letter: Six year study rule is a barrier for prisoners

    All | Learner voice

    Adam, a serving prisoner, writes to express his gratitude to Prisoners' Education Trust after gaining a 1st in his degree. He also highlights the disadvantages the current rules requiring prisoners to be within six years of their release date before being allowed to study an Open University course. A key recommendation of PET's new Brain Cells report (published 24 September 2014) asks the government to lift time restrictions on any higher level study.

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    Nicole John: "Education brought me and my son together"

    Women | Distance learning

    After studying a counselling course with help from Prisoners’ Education Trust, Nicolle John has continued helping others since leaving prison in May 2011. She has volunteered with charities but most importantly it has helped her reconnect with her family. “Education has brought me and my son closer together," she says.

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    Junior Smart: Helping young people avoid prison

    All | Education

    Junior went to prison as a gang member, now, after earning a 1st class degree from the Open University, he is preparing to go into his second year Master’s degree in Applied Criminology and Youth Justice at Middlesex University.

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    Noel Smith: "There is no rehabilitation without education"

    All | Distance learning

    Prisoners' Education Trust alumnus and journalist Noel Smith writes: "I spent over 3 decades bouncing around the British prison system before I found my rehabilitation. I have now been out of prison for over 4 years (a personal record for me) and I put it down to education."

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    Woman gains a new identity through learning

    Women | Education

    An ex-prisoner writes about her journey through the criminal justice system and the importance of education in creating a new identity for herself. Although she experienced self-doubt and negative thinking, she has also achieved two degrees and is now working for charities.

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    Phillip: succeeding with learning difficulties

    All | Education

    Phillip writes about developing a love of learning during his sentence despite having previously struggled to learn at school, coping with learning difficulties and experiencing bullying and other challenges in prison.