Beware! Transformations In progress, the Mouncey way
Andy Mouncey has taken his ‘Run For Your Life’ mantra into prison to deliver a string of successful fitness-first programmes.
Founder of the Run For Your Life Community Interest Company, has designed and delivered three programmes around rehabilitation and re-engagement for people in the Therapeutic Community at HMP Wymott, a Category C Men’s Prison in Lancashire.
Andy took his first programme – 24 hours of intensive group activity packed into 2.5 consecutive days – into Wymott last December and then followed up with further sessions in February and March this year with the help of Dave Coppack, Head of Reducing Reoffending, and PE lead Ian Grimshaw.
Andy’s Run For Your Life blog gives a full and updated rundown on his progress, and he gave us an insight into what he is trying to achieve.
“We use the principles and practice of Physically Active Learning and Restorative Justice,” Andy explained. “We teach people the attitude, thinking and behaviour skills of an endurance athlete so they can better manage their mood and persevere through setbacks.
“We provide a shared, supportive physically challenging experience in an austere environment for people who have kittens at the prospect.
“We make it easier and compelling for our participants to:
- manage their mood and mental health
- learn to ask for help and work with others
- harness their motivation to set and achieve positive challenging goals
- use proven skills and coping strategies to break out of a destructive cycle, persevere through setbacks and have the capacity to make it stick over time
- give back and help others by becoming a peer mentor on graduation.”
Andy encountered plenty of challenges along the way, but he emphasised that this is normal when developing something that is deliberately very different from a usual prison educational experience.
However, with the help of key members of staff and peer mentors chosen from the first group, everyone who started the programme was there at graduation.
Eventually, Andy would love to agree a longer-term arrangement with Wymott, as he is “acutely aware” of the need to bridge the end of the programme to normal life for his graduates.
“Here’s what happens to people in prison after a transformational experience: expectations of themselves are raised and their expectations of others are raised,” he explained.
“Unless that second expectation is met, the disillusion with people/’the system’ is verging on catastrophic and the crash back down puts the participants in a worse place than when they started – the ‘I knew it was all too good to be true’/give hope then snatch it away scenario.
“It’s therefore vital that enough of the right staff take it on and key rituals, practice and principles of my stuff are incorporated into normal operational procedures.”
But for now, the focus is on containing coronavirus outbreaks in the prison system and supporting staff who remain in the front line and the people serving sentences who are now very much in isolation. How could RFYL CIC adjust and still support? Andy is working on that…
You can find out more by contacting Andy (email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 07799 063115)