Memorandum submitted by The Dialogue Trust
The Dialogue Trust helps reduce criminality
by building bridges between those who commit crimes and other
people. It does this by running professionally facilitated dialogue
groups, held weekly with about 15 offenders. The groups bring
offenders and non-offenders together to talk on-the-level in prisons
and in the community. Through dialogue, offenders experience worthwhile
relationships that improve their understanding of boundaries and
how to establish and maintain boundaries, improves communication
and social skills and, importantly, helps them to develop the
confidence and the motivation to take further steps in their learning.
The Trust has worked in HMPs Wandsworth, Norwich
and Whitemoor and with Cambridgeshire probation. Responding to
prison requirements, we obtained accreditation in 2006 as an approved
centre for the National Open College Network, which allows us
to offer an accredited programme of dialogue groups in prisons
which lead to a Learning and Skills certificate. We are listed
in the NOMS National Provider Network (reg no NPN 00209). In 2007,
we will run a nine-month pilot of the accredited Learning and
Skills programme at HMP Whitemoor.
Since our accreditation under Learning and Skills,
the Trust has been in touch with a number of prisons. It is clear
from these contacts that finances are under extreme pressure.
The Whitemoor pilot will be funded by a ratio of 4:1 of charitable
funding to prison funding.
We know that a lot of crime is due to the fact
that the majority of offenders urgently need better education
and skills in order to change their behaviour. It is disappointing
that much of the resources depend on the vagaries of charitable
funding. It is also dispiriting to know that, in this climate,
one intervention tends to be funded at the cost of another.
We continue to work at HMP Whitemoor and, in
2005-06, spent a year working at HMP Wandsworth, where we ran
two dialogue groups. An evaluation of that work was positive.
It is available on our website: www.thedialoguetrust.org along
with a summary of the findings. Attached is a copy of recent comments
from prisoners in our dialogue groups.
"I think this is very important
work that is being done."
"Things have been said today
that I'm going to take away with me and work on."
"You have to change your mindset.
There are vultures out there who are just waiting for you to show
a bit of weakness. Something inside your head has to change."
"Everyone has a choice. I accept
responsibility for my actions."
"I was very bitter and angry.
Dialogue gives me my self respect and, even more so, helps me
help other people."
"I have learned things about
myself and through going to Dialogue wish to do some charity work
as Dialogue has helped me in so many ways. I wish to give something
"I've got to question what I
do, and I can do that in here."
"I've been in (this prison)
for two years and we've never talked like this before."
"I always get new ideas on how
to deal with things personally and in general."
"The dialogue group has helped
me (A) to understand myself in the light of society at large;
(B) to understand others and the way they feel about themselves
and the society; and (C) to cope with the everyday pressure in
"I've learnt more about myself
and feel safer here in the dialogue group than all my years in
Prisoner to Governor after he had
attended the dialogue: "I don't want to hang you anymore."
"This is a very good group and
the people doing it are helping a lot."
"This is an excellent initiative."
"We need more of these groups."