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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    Kristin: back with her family and off drugs

    Women | Family learning

    Kristin hit rock bottom when she found herself in prison, separated from her children after battling with class A drugs for 20 years. Now she says that education was her ‘saving grace’ as she is back with her family and holding down a steady job. She says: “Education in prison gave me a second chance.”

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    Mark: "Education over medication"

    All | Mental Health

    Mark, a serving prisoner, describes how learning has improved his mental heath. He writes: "I believe education actively promotes self-inquiry, growth, worth and a sense of direction. Through my experiences with education, I adopted a motto of ‘education over medication’."

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    Gemma: The difficulties of a relationship with a prisoner

    All | Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

    Gemma discusses the challenges and setbacks she and her partner have experienced in attempting to sustain their relationship through his imprisonment.

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    Francis Osei-Appiah: "Education will set you free"

    All | Education

    PET Alumnus and Social Care Manager Francis Osei-Appiah shares his story, and tells how engaging with education changed his life.

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    Carl: “Maths stopped my brain turning to mush”

    Young people | Distance learning

    Carl, a prisoner who has recently graduated after he began his Open University (OU) course with support from Prisoners' Education Trust in 2007, writes: "I was left behind my door 23 hours a day watching television programmes, which started driving me insane. I felt my brain turning to mush and knew I needed to do something about it."

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    Maryse: Learners must be recognised for achievements

    All | Distance learning

    A prisoner's sister, Maryse, writes about the need to recognise learners' achievements: "It is not often that the achievements of a prisoner are recognised by the 'outside world', or used to make a positive impact for others in a similar situation."

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    Patrick: IPP prisoner questions loans

    All | Government policy

    Prisoners' Education Trust has received letters from many of its beneficiaries concerned about the impact of student loans. Patrick, one of our Learner Voice panel members expresses his concerns about this.

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    Frank Harris: "I’ve always been a taker but now I’m a giver"

    All | Distance learning

    Londoner Frank Harris, 53, had been in and out of prison for more than 30 years when he found his ‘way out’ of crime through education in prison with the support of Prisoners' Education Trust and other charities.

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    Sarah: Working in her dream job

    Women | Employability

    Sarah says: “I wouldn’t be doing the job I’m doing now if it wasn’t for the qualifications I gained in prison, thanks to Prisoners' Education Trust."

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    Chris Syrus: Creatively reducing youth crime

    Ex-prisoners | Arts

    Chris Syrus, 34, has spent the past five years since leaving prison realising his dream of helping get young people into work, education or training. He now runs his own business, using the arts to motivate disadvantaged 13-24 year-olds nationally and in the Croydon community where he grew up.