Learners reunite for fundraising hike

26 May 2017

A group of women who first met in prison have come back together on the White Cliffs of Dover for a challenging hike to raise money for Prisoners’ Education Trust.

The 16 women, aged between 34 and 70, climbed the 8-mile coastline to support the prison education that many of them personally benefitted from.

Lauren Cherry, 34, set up the ‘Women Speak Out’ group with people she met during her time in prison. They now get together regularly to take part in social and fundraising activities and to give each other much-needed support and advice.

The hike has raised over £700 for PET so far. Many of the hikers themselves received PET funding for distance learning in prison, and all are passionate about the value of education.

Lauren says:  

“The group has 25 women who all want a better future for themselves. Education played a huge role in that positive change, and we hope to raise awareness about the power of learning and the fact that, despite a person’s previous experiences, they can still have a positive future for themselves.”

Donate to Lauren's hike here

The steep climb was a challenge for some of the group, says Lauren, one of whom has an arthritic back and one who is going through treatment for cancer, but they all completed the course. 

“When I first suggested the idea everyone looked at me like I was absolutely crazy, but the atmosphere was brilliant. Despite some hairy moments on the way up, everyone loved the experience, and we got a lot of support by livestreaming it on the way.”

Members of the ‘Women Speak Out’ group come from across the UK, and they meet twice a month. The meetings create a “safe space” for women to be honest and frank about their experience of prison and life post-release, says Lauren.

“The ladies often tell me that a weight has been lifted off their shoulders after our meetings,” she says. “That is exactly what the ‘Women Speak Out’ group is hoping to achieve, if all the women leave 2% happier then the meetings are worthwhile.”

The backing of her friends and family has been vital post release, says Lauren.

“My family had a really tough time when I was in prison. I was on bail for three years and when I was finally sentenced, it was a complete shock to me and my whole family. Since I’ve been out they’ve been extremely supportive; helping with my fundraising efforts and even letting the ladies stay in their summer bungalow on the cliffs for a much-needed post hike celebration!”

To donate to the ‘Women Speak Out’ climbers, click here.

Lauren works for Life Clubs, providing life coaching in prisons, for more information click here.

Notes to Editors

  1. Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) provides advice and funding for over 2,500 people per year for distance learning courses in subjects and levels not generally available in prisons, as well as for arts and hobbies grants.
  2. PET also carries out research, informed by prisoner learners, to improve prison education policies.