In Reasons To Be Cheerful – Part One, which was published yesterday, I had written about my previous day where I co-chaired the RECONNECT launch event alongside Lord Bradley and Kate Davies CBE. Also published yesterday was the Education Committee’s report on their inquiry into prison education. I say yesterday, but in fact, the report had been published on Tuesday, however, it was a press embargoed report which couldn’t be shared until 00:01 yesterday (Wednesday, May 18). It was not an easy task, made the more difficult as I was quoted and referenced throughout the report. I was, and am, as proud as punch. Hence, reasons to be cheerful is a two-parter. (Although, I did receive an email in the evening yesterday that also blew my mind, so look out for part three, unless I title that one differently.)
A little background first, in November 2020 the education committee put out a request for written submissions for their prison education inquiry. Having had three previous written submissions published by the justice select committee on separate inquiries I had a lot of confidence in submitting one on prison education, and not just because of my previous three, but also, prison education is kind of my thing. So, it would have been amiss of me to have not written.
I am proud to say, in February 2021 I had my fourth, but first with the education committee, written submission published on the UK Parliament’s website. I will share both my written submission and the education committee’s full report at the end of this blog.
I’ve always had the hope of an invite to give oral evidence to the committee when sending in my written submissions, but that is all it was, hope. However, I do say that sometimes hope is all you need, well, and a written submission in this case but not the point. In late October 2021 I received an email inviting me, and four other people with lived experience of prison education, to give oral evidence on November 2, 2021, to the committee members at the House of Commons. As you can see from the title image, I accepted. Easiest yes, I’ve said.
Five people, who were all former prisoners, at the House of Commons to answer questions asked by Members of Parliament. What an incredible day for people with lived experience of the criminal justice system. I should say we wasn’t the first people with lived experience to have spoken at Parliament HQ, and I’m proud to know several people who have, in fact, regarding myself, this was my second time there. For me personally though, taking everything on board, November 2, 2021, is my proudest achievement to date. I am proud of all the work I do and platforms I find myself speaking from, but for achievement, nothing has beaten it. So far!
If truth be told, I don’t remember too much about the day, but, fortunately, I was filmed, for a documentary currently being produced, coming out of the impressive Westminster buildings and my feelings were caught on camera. I’m yet to see the results but the documentary will be out soon.
I’ve started this blog about one of my greatest achievements and yet I am finding it difficult to find the right words to explain how I feel over my involvement with the education committee’s inquiry into prison education.
Then again, “my involvement with the education committee’s inquiry into prison education.” says it all, and I’d like to think is further evidence of what can be!
Here’s the full report. Following which, is the full transcript from, and link to watch, the day we gave oral evidence, followed by my written submission. And watch this space for my reasons to be cheerful, part three. Or whatever I call it.