After completing a Barbering course in HMP Leyhill's education department, run by Weston College, 'Chris' working at a local salon in his home town of Exeter.
He is now settling down to life after HMP and wants to share the story of his success with others so that that might also be inspired to use their time in prison to gain qualifications to support their resettlement back into the community.
Chris is really keen for others to see the benefits of how participating in college courses run by Weston College in prison can really make a difference to life outside of prison.
Chris had never contemplated going to education whilst in prison. It was not something he felt he needed to do, having been fully employed for 19 years before finding himself facing a 2 year prison sentence.
His first encounter with education was attending to complete a mandatory Maths and English program, something he didn’t think he would need to do – well that was an eye-opener..! “This taster for education really got me interested, the staff were really good and it was brilliant I learnt stuff that I didn’t know about Maths and English, it is so long ago since I did these qualifications I had forgot so much. I found it was really useful in keeping me in touch with what was going on in the outside world. I enjoyed this so much I went on to complete an IT programme, this was brilliant I learnt so many things on this that I am able to share with my sons now that I am home. I feel that I put my time to really good use and made the best out of a bad situation and did something with it that benefitted both me and my family”
Chris explained that the college is a great environment for anyone from any background. There are other offenders from all over in here and that’s really interesting – you can learn so many different things there are so many opportunities. Chris developed a real taste for learning and placed his name on the list for a barbering qualification, a complete change in direction from his retail career.
He successfully completed a 12 week NVQ Level 2 Barbering course during his time at Leyhill and is now putting this to good use working 2 days a week at a local salon whilst also studying the art of women’s hair dressing. One of the greatest satisfactions to come though, has been the ability to be able to cut his own sons hair!
From little things grow great opportunities is how Chris would like others to see the opportunities of attending education in prison. We provide education packages to thousands of offenders and employ around 300 staff, under the Offenders' Learning and Skills Service Phase 4 (OLASS 4) provision. The focus of our delivery is transformational learning and raising aspirations - ensuring that an education package is provided that meets the needs of prisoners when they complete their sentence. The College is committed to helping a new generation of prisoners like Chris to gain skills which could help them find employment after their release.