Phil's prison courses lead to a career in charities

Phil Aldis, The Cascade Foundation, writes:

“My name is Phil and I was in and out of children’s homes from the age of 8 years old. This instability was reflected in my education. I was always skipping school and could normally be found down at the amusements’ arcade causing mischief with my mates. I left school at 15 with no qualifications. After that I did a lot of menial work on building sites, factories and in kitchens up to my thirties when I was convicted of serious assault and I was told to serve 6 and a half years in prison.

While at HMP Chelmsford I came across Jackie Hewitt-Main, who was helping prisoners with learning difficulties.

Jackie was looking for 10 prisoners to become educational learning coaches as part of a Level 3 teaching course and I thought that this would be an excellent qualification to have.

Each week we paired up with a different person who had learning difficulties and we learnt about how people take information in, process it and express that on paper.

After this course finished I was moved to HMP Wayland where with the assistance from PET, I gained qualifications in Drug and Alcohol Counselling and a Level 3 Grief and Bereavement counselling qualification. Though both were hard going and I spent a lot of time in my cell I successfully passed, which I was well chuffed with.

Shortly after this I was released and within a couple of months I volunteered for a homeless charity in Colchester, which led to a job as a support worker 5 months later. I worked for this charity for four years and at the same time, I remained in contact with Jackie who urged me to do more qualifications.

It was because of Jackie’s support and commitment that I continued with my learning.

Two years ago Jackie contacted me about coming to work for her charity, The Cascade Foundation (TCF). I am the charity’s Release Support Worker. I live, work and manage the first transition centre in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. This is a demanding and rewarding role.

I wish to thank all involved in turning my life around.

Without Jackie I would not have improved my literacy and numeracy, without PET I would not have been able to continue to practise these skills and then thanks to Cascade I have employment.

I have now passed my driving licence and have a car, money in the bank and a secure job with a roof over my head.

Any one of you can do this; just believe in yourself, if you need help then please ask for it. Remember everyone learns in a different way, this is what makes us all unique, and asking for help is not a sign of weakness but proof that you are empowering yourself. Whilst you are in prison please use all the options that are there for you to help yourselves and to provide a better future for yourself, if I can do it then you can, I now have 35+ qualifications.”

Help others like Phil by donating to Prisoners' Education Trust:

Text 'PRIS15 £5' to 70070 and make a difference today.