24 June 2021
A long-standing supporter, the charity’s latest grant of just over £20,000 has helped PET provide distance learning courses, advice and guidance to veterans. According to the Bromley Briefings, 11% of people in prison report being a member of the Armed Forces.
In the face of 23-hour lockdowns, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity’s support has enabled PET to provide a positive focus for learners during the Covid-19 crisis. Many have gained valuable skills and qualifications – studying courses ranging from Bookkeeping to Counselling Skills.
Andrew*, in his thirties, served in the Army for two years. He studied Conservation Studies through PET, having developed an interest in environmental conservation while inside.
He told PET his confidence increased thanks to the feeling that someone believed in him enough to fund his learning:
Someone, somewhere considered me a worthy investment and the feeling was indescribable. I do not know what the future holds but today, because of the opportunities afforded me, I can do something that will ensure that I have one.”
Andrew emphasised the impact of his learning journey on his outlook for the future, saying:
It changed my world! It gave me purpose, [made me] feel that spark, and before I knew it, I was not serving time I was using it. The structure of study and regular feedback from my tutors gave me cause to be optimistic about the future for the first time since crossing the wire.”
Another PET learner, Ivan*, served in the Army for eleven years. He is now studying Teaching English as a Foreign Language, in order to help mentor and teach health and safety to people in prison who do not speak English as their first language.
He wrote: “It will help me to enable others to speak, read and write English, giving speakers of other languages a better chance of gaining education and employment both in prison and upon release, as well as myself.”
Ivan added that taking the course helped him during the prison lockdown: “[It’s] helping me stay focused, keeping my mind active, thus helping with my mental health.”
Army veteran Lewis* highlighted how studying in prison can have far-reaching benefits for other areas of learners’ lives. He wrote about how his A-level Law course would benefit his relationship with his daughter, through their shared experience of study.
He wrote to PET after starting his course, reporting that he was making ‘great’ progress, and saying: “I would recommend everyone to take part in some form of distance learning.”
*Names have been changed
© Prisoners' Education Trust 2023