28 June 2019
30 veterans in prison have been offered a fresh start through learning thanks to generous support from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.
The charity – which provides support to soldiers, veterans and their immediate families – has given just over £10,000 this year to help Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) provide distance learning courses, advice and guidance to veterans in prison.
With The Soldiers’ Charity’s support, PET has been able to offer veterans the first step towards a number of vocations – from working in health and fitness through the Gym Instructing Certificate, to becoming a drug and alcohol worker through the Understanding Substance Misuse course. Other veterans have taken up courses in wiring, health and safety, and garden planning.
The learning resources I have acquired are without doubt my most valuable item in possession.
‘Daniel’, in his 40s, served in the Army for six years. Thanks to the charity’s grant, he was funded to study Countryside Conservation Studies – giving him the opportunity to learn about the conversation of the British countryside and how to create a sustainable society.
Like many learners funded by The Soldiers’ Charity, Daniel’s studies are part of a bigger picture for him. He is a mentor in his prison’s education department, as well as a Learner Voice Rep on his wing – ensuring his peers know about the learning opportunities available to them in prison. Having missed out on education earlier in his life, he’s also studied for his GCSEs while serving his sentence, taking five – including English and Maths – in a year.
In his application for taking up Countryside Conservation Studies, Daniel wrote: “[This course] will set me on a path to further learning and awareness that should prove useful to myself, my children and society as a whole in the future.”
I can only apologise if my enthusiasm causes your offices to receive additional applications.
He recently got in touch with PET to update on his progress: “I am pleased to share that I have indeed completed [the course] and have received my final assessment grade,” Daniel writes in his letter, “I mostly achieved scores in the high 90s and am very keen to continue my studies… The learning resources I have acquired are without doubt my most valuable item in possession.”
The course opened Daniel’s eyes to the world around him. He wrote: “Not only have I been able to investigate and write about those things I have always been interested in, I have also been introduced to new fields, therein broadening my horizons and stirring a desire to know more.”
Next, he plans to complete the Level 4 Environment Waste Management course, learning how to manage waste and conserve our environment. As well as preparing for employment on release, he wants to use what he learns to improve the prison environment too. He writes: “[The course] will qualify me to contribute an opinion in regards to future prison programmes.”
I have been introduced to new fields, broadening my horizons and stirring a desire to know more.
Daniel has gone on to become a standard-bearer for education inside. He writes: “I can only apologise if my enthusiasm causes your offices to receive additional applications and enquiries.” The closing line of his letter demonstrates the value of PET’s partnership with The Soldiers’ Charity. Daniel writes: “Your support during these trialling times is so gratefully appreciated.”
According to the Ministry of Justice, veterans like Daniel represent 4% of the UK prison population, over 3,000 people. Since 2009, PET and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity have worked together to help nearly 200 of them build a brighter future through education.
The name used in this article has been changed for the purposes for anonymity.
If you work for a trust or foundation and are interested in partnering with PET, then please email our Trusts Fundraising Manager, Hannah Richards.
© Prisoners' Education Trust 2020