A Future Through Learning

Life after prison is the theme of this film, made for the Prisoner Learning Alliance by Prison Learning TV to explore the long term impact of learning for two ex-prisoners who are now devoting their time to helping thousands of young people at the charity Youth Empowerment Services (YES+). The film tells the story of the charity’s founder Graham Godden and facilitator Marticka Sampson.

“It's incredible; rough figures are that around £5,000 was invested in me to do my education in prison, the vast majority of that coming from the Prisoners' Education Trust. The amount of money spent incarcerating me for 18 and a half years runs into hundreds of thousands of pounds,” says Graham.

Graham's story reads as an illustration of the potential of prison education to change lives for the better. After struggling with a difficult childhood spent in the care system, Graham was first sent to prison in his early twenties. It was not until a counsellor who was helping him deal with his drug addiction, suggested that he apply to do a distance learning course in drug rehabilitation that Graham considered a return to education.

“As soon as he said it was a University course it frightened me; I didn't believe I was at that level. I completed that course and actually passed with a distinction.”

He established YES+ after being released and now supports over 3,000 young people and employs nine other ex-prisoners as facilitators; one of whom is Marticka, another PET alumnus. Like Graham, she struggled with education during a difficult childhood, but found that learning allowed her to realize her passion for helping young people to take a positive direction.

“I took so much out of society for so many years and it makes me feel good that I can put something back and hopefully save lives, instead of going through a destructive path like I did,” she says. Marticka is determined other young women learn from her experiences and avoid becoming exploited or abused within relationships so she is leading a programme to help vulnerable girls.

The film highlights the potential that prison education has, not only to lead prisoners on to a positive path after release from long sentences, but also the positive impact that prison learners can make in the community.

Watch the film.