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By Andy Mouncey, May 14 2019 03:51PM

Breaking In

So you think it’s hard breaking out of prison? You want to try breaking in.

This is what it takes for a new social enterprise with One Big Idea to get going in our Justice sector – as lived by Andy Mouncey of Run For Your Life CIC www.runforyourlife.org.uk

Timeline To Date

2012 First invitation to a Category C prison. Project pulled pre-start

2013 First short pilot delivered (unpaid) at a Cat D prison

2014-16 More testing – more pilots – still no ££

2016 RFYL Conception. Doors open–doors close-funding bids/rejected

2017 RFYL Community Interest Company incorporation. Doors open-close/bids (sad face)

2018 Doors open–close/bids etc: Getting boring now. Still no ££

2019: Too far in to give up – so it’s this year or bust

The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 19

Times I’ve Honestly Thought About Quitting: 4

Times My Wife Has Given Me Permission To Quit: 2


In some ways right now – post pilot - feels like the toughest time.

I mean, it’s not as though I expected bells to ring, bunting to be hung in the streets and a mad scramble to buy…but SOMETHING to land successfully would be nice.

I’m nervous on another level too: There is good research out there that says unequivocally when you intervene successfully with a ‘hard to reach’ group in a challenging environment and then withdraw leaving them in a vacuum…they can revert to worse levels than when you started.

In other words the sink is deeper and faster – so reaching ‘em from THAT demands even more of a stretch.

The tame version that more people will be familiar with is going back to work fired up after an inspirational away day or an uplifting weekend only to find very quickly that it’s the same old, same old.

Or completing a successful pilot with the expectation that it would be the breakthrough needed to bridge to longer term work.

Not on my first choice timescale, apparently.

The difference of course is that those of us on the outside have infinitely more choices and support than those serving time on the inside.

So I worry about my 11 back in Stafford.

In my defense I did try to set up a bridge for them:

Public verbal commitments about what they would do differently from the end of the pilot and what help they would need from others.

Photos of the key activities we did so they have reminders.

Personal diaries they continue to use.

A letter to each one week later.

Still I worry.

Two weeks on from the pilot I was back at Stafford for a full review with key folks – and while it became apparent very quickly that we had ticked a whole host of boxes, it didn’t take a genius to work out that this is where it would get interesting.

For me, anyway.

With one decision – f*** it, I’ll give you four days of me – I’d raised my stakes and expectations. And I’m not sure there is another line of work where giving your stuff away for free first is a normal way of getting over the threshold, but in the Justice sector this seems not especially unusual.

This opens up all sorts of questions around Intellectual Property – and somewhere down that road lies Non Disclosure Agreements and if we were in the private sector there’s probably A Letter Of Intent (pre-contract) lurking.

But we’re in the public sector and a shrinking public purse talking about resources for a problem most people would rather not have to think about.

Or most politicians not to have as a portfolio of responsibility, it would seem.

So care and diligence is the name of the game – and that fact that I’ve spent 7 years proving the concept and 18 months building the relationship with Stafford is just my baggage (sigh).

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