British crime writer Martina Cole recently visited HMP Thameside to talk about the importance of offender learning.
With a growing focus on prison education and offender learning, the bestselling crime writer told an audience of more than 80 prisoners: “I didn’t do well at school, I came from a similar background as many of you. I was expelled twice. I educated myself.”
The Reading Agency are a charity whose mission is to inspire more people to read more, encourage them to share their enjoyment of reading and celebrate the difference that reading makes to all our lives. These values are extremely important to offender learning, as one of the first hurdles to successful prison education has been found to be a lack of literacy among learners.
“If I can do it, you can do it” was the key message in this talk. Cole revealed that because of her background, in particular her trouble in school, she didn’t believe it was possible for her to become a writer. Despite these setbacks, Martina Cole has gone on to be an incredibly successful, bestselling crime writer.
Cole poured encouragement on the listeners to go away and write their own stories: “I’m a big believer in writing as you speak. Think of a powerful image and start with that. Think about the people in your life, your parents, your kids, give them a page or two. Describe their characters. Then you can turn that into fiction. My books are fiction but some scenes within them are based on reality".
Throughout the talk, Cole provided further advice about the way to write a great story, the research involved and the process of getting work published. When talking about how to get work critiqued or 'out there' to publishers, she stated: “They don’t care who you are or where you’re from. All they’re interested in is a good, original story.”
Cole and David Kendall, from the Reading Agency, also presented 15 certificates to prisoners, officers and staff who had completed the Reading Ahead scheme.
Novus run the OLASS facilities at HMP Thameside and were thoroughly delighted to be part of a talk that has been seen to have such an encouraging effect on inmates and their efforts in offender Learning. To find out more about prison education jobs at HMP Thameside, visit our jobs page now.