This year, the National Literacy Trust launched a new programme called Inside Stories to support those in young offender institutions through the power of reading to lead productive and fulfilling lives while in custody and upon release.
As part of the programme, the National Literacy Trust hosted a panel discussion at Aylesbury YOI, made up of: Carl Cattermole, ex-prisoner, author of Prison: A Survival Guide, LJ Flanders, ex-prisoner, author of Cell Workout, Robyn Travis, author of Prisoner to the Streets and Mama Can’t Raise No Man, Mark Maciver, celebrity barber, Instagram star and soon-to-be author and Paddy Johnston, Senior Communications Manager & Head of Charitable Strategy at publisher Hachette
25 prisoners attended the panel discussion to learn about the panellists’ careers and favourite books.
Following the event, attendees were also given the opportunity to spend time working on their own creative writing that editors at Hachette will review and give individual feedback on, to inspire them to explore and develop their own writing skills.
Those who came along also received a copy of Robyn Travis’ book Prisoner to the Streets to read in their own time. The event was recorded and will be broadcasted on National Prison Radio later in the month, for other prisoners to tune into.
Carl Cattermole is an ex prisoner and author of Prison: A Survival Guide, released in June 2019. He said: “Discovering books really helped me explore the world and expand my imagination in a whole new way.
"Reading made my mind feel razor sharp, it helped me to learn about history and even helped me sleep at night. It made me feel better as a person and want to live a positive lifestyle when I was released.
"Reading is not a one stop answer, but for me it sparked a constructive change in me and that’s something I wanted to get across during the panel discussion.
"I wanted to show that channelling your energy and spending your time developing your mind can have a lasting and positive impact on not just young people, but everyone in this situation.”
Paddy Johnston, Senior Communications Manager & Head of Charitable Strategy at publisher Hachette, said: “It was great to be part of a really interesting discussion panel at Aylesbury Young Offenders Institute.
"Everyone was really engaged and asked lots of questions. We’re looking forward to receiving the creative writing that the attendees are working on, following on from the event and being able to give individual feedback from a publishing perspective to help them develop their writing skills.”
Catherine Bentley, Learning and Skills Manager at HM YOI Aylesbury said: “The Inside Stories discussion panel was a great chance to show the career opportunities that books, reading and writing opened up for the panellists that came along. We’d like to thank them very much for coming in to speak to the group.”
For more information on Inside Stories please visit: https://literacytrust.org.uk/programmes/books-unlocked/inside-stories/