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By Andy Mouncey, Mar 5 2019 06:41PM

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


Do The Opposite

Even I have limits – and I reached ‘em shortly after that visit outlined in the previous blog.

That new plan for the ££ bit? Ha! Torpedoed before it even left harbor.

Completely and utterly out of ideas and vulgar Anglo-Saxon phraseology I could only see one solution – well, two actually but truth be told I am wayyyyyyy beyond throwing in the towel now:

‘F**k it. I’m gonna have to do it for free.’


Or to put it in more strategic well-thought-through terminology…If I’ve been singularly unsuccessful so far when chasing the ££ and presenting my case, how about I just STOP and earn the right to receive instead?

I mean, you do believe this sh*t’s gonna work, don’t you Andy?


So it’s money where mouth is / If I don’t commit how can I expect anyone else to? And any other layers of positive spin I care to put on it.

Suddenly, scarily, Nothing is turning into Something – and the Something is this:


At the end of this month I will be at HMP Stafford taking the choice bits of what I’d planned to do over a 12 week program and testing the heck of out them over 3 intensive days.


I will have a project group of 12 men, the PE team and other key members of staff all of whom have taken a leap of faith by knowing enough to be curious and excited about – and nowhere near enough to really know what the hell will happen or what they’ve let themselves in for.

‘That’ I reassured them, ‘is why we do a pilot.’


And that is also totally and utterly the approach I have taken ever since I started working for myself 19 years ago:

Say YES first.

Do it.

Then figure out how to really do it.


So we’re gonna do it – then figure out how to really do it.


I’d said to the governor Ralph Lubkowski that he’d actually only got himself to blame. Ralph and I met early 2018 at a Ministry of Justice event in York for sector providers. Ralph stood up in front of the packed hall and said something along the lines of:

‘We have some challenges at Stafford – and we’re going places – and I need some help from you lot so come and talk to me. But sorry – I have to go!’

And with that he left the hall.

One person shot out of his chair and ambushed him in the corridor. You guessed it…


The rest has been figuring a way to make it happen and earning the right to be followed when I stand up and point.

By Andy Mouncey, Feb 6 2019 06:55PM

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

2017 RFYL Community Interest Company incorporation

2018 Doors open – doors close: Repeat. Still no ££


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


Kissing Frogs

It goes with the territory: Sifting the wheat from the chaff – finding those who are mouth and trousers AND who genuinely welcome what you got as opposed to seeing it – and me - as a threat. I’d learned very quickly to be disarming from the outset especially with some Physical Education teams. My favorite opener:

‘I don’t want to work here and I don’t want your jobs.’

As a wind-out-of-sales / get-yer-attention gambit I’d yet to find anything as effective.


All of which means that when you do get a break from pushing water uphill it feels really REALLY nice.

So it was recently when I visited one of my ‘warm’ prisons again after a gap of about a year. Not that I’d be particularly idle in that time, you understand – just rejected bid after rejected funding bid that meant I was firmly in the ‘Nothing To Report’ file.

So it was a genuine delight to be warmly welcomed back by folks from the PE team I remembered from a year ago.

‘Are we still on?’

‘What do you need?’

‘Look – we’re still up for it and we can make it work!’


Of course I had a plan and a shopping list and an hour later we had a more detailed plan and a shorter shopping list. There was still the small matter of some ££ - but I had a new plan for that too. More importantly I left there feeling somewhat lighter than I arrived AND within touching distance of actually GETTING STARTED.

As long as we could make the ££ work…


By Andy Mouncey, Jan 21 2019 02:05PM

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

2017 RFYL Community Interest Company incorporation

2018 Doors open – doors close: Repeat. Still no ££


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


Pegs & Holes

You’ll like this: After months of applying to funds who say they support ‘Start Up’ or ‘Scale Up’ - I mean, I’ve now done 4 pilot versions which means I do have SOMETHING to show for my efforts and I really am somewhere beyond the ‘Ideas On A Page’ stage – and being knocked back because I’m told I don’t have anything meaningful to start or scale…(?!) I thought I’d go in the other direction: The Big Ideas funds (that support Starting or Scaling).


Obvious, right?

And just before Xmas the two latest came back – and you know what’s coming, right?

‘Sorry - your ideas are too well developed…’

??*!**%!!!!!!


All of which lead me to conclude the following:

Either my bid writing really is shit

Or my proposition really is genuinely ground-breaking and might as well have come from Mars - as clearly no one WITH MONEY TO SPEND has yet recognized it as a viable solution

Or I really will have to continue to do this thing on my own time and money until we are faced with re-mortgaging the house or I give up and decide to get a real job


However, given there is no real prospect of this last bit – after 18 years of working for myself I am probably unemployable by now – I’m faced with taking a hard look at the other bits.

Again (sigh).


Oh well: Remember the ‘two invitations’ goal from the MoJ Speed-Dating event in the previous blog? Well I got ‘em…


By Andy Mouncey, Dec 14 2018 03:09PM

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


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

2016 RFYL Conception

2017 RFYL Community Interest Company incorporation

2018 Doors open – doors close: Repeat


The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 17

Times I’ve Honestly Thought About Quitting: 4

Times My Wife Has Given Me Permission To Quit: 2



Ministry of Justice Goes Speed-Dating

Dec 10th and MoJ has invited folks from the voluntary sector to get up close and personal with Her Majesty’s Prisons in the fair city of Milton Keynes. Given it’s not untypical to take a week to actually get to talk to the person you want to talk to on the phone in a prison, the prospect of going eyeball to eyeball with only a table between you is an unbelievably juicy prospect. It seems a ton of other folks from voluntary sector providers think the same – I walk into the meeting hall to be met by a wall of noise and a sea of people literally shoulder to shoulder.

Bloody hell!


Around 25 tables in the room mean representatives from around 25 prisons and the distinguishing feature is Seated=Staff, Standing=Providers. The dominant color is the usual prison service black so true to form and in the interests of being memorable I am in my usual corporate orange.


Being happily married for nearly 20 years means I am seriously out of dating practice – and I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t this level of…Feeding frenzy is somewhat melodramatic but it’s on the same continuum for sure!

I take a deep breath, assume a slim profile and still need 6 practice laps of the hall desperately looking for a familiar face before I’m brave enough to spot an opening and grab my first date. Shouting and leaning in is very un-English but the only way bar lip-reading to communicate. I feel for the prison folks for whom this is all an in-at-the-deep-end first – and who will need their vocal chords in the morning.


Of course once over the threshold it all gets easier.

‘We should all have done this ages ago’ remarks one smiling and somewhat croaky Head of Reducing Reoffending. Amen to that.

I give away a handful of business cards, get to practice my pitch again, and realize I can now name-drop around the sector and get attention very quickly.

Worth nine hours in the car? Oh yes – and if I don’t get two new invites from that little lot I’ll be disappointed.


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