One Small Thing Christmas drinks speech – December 2017

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the second One Small party. I am so pleased you could all make it and I am also very pleased to welcome and proud to have our Clink trainees here, who will be making sure you don’t go hungry or thirsty tonight!

One Small Thing is two years old and a lot has happened

All 12 prisons have over 30% of their staff trained with six prisons having over 90% trained in Becoming trauma informed (what we know as BTI).

Out of the 12 prisons in England, five are running the healing trauma – peer led – intervention, two are set to start in January and the following five intending to start over the next few months.

Following on from the last training session back in June, I have recently visited eight prisons with the remaining four falling between now and the end of January.

To put it bluntly I have been blown away!

The purpose of my visits have been to catch up, hear about what’s been going on, it’s been a good chance for me to update with people as to my plans for the next year, also it’s been a great opportunity to speak with Governors and the women themselves to make sure I am hearing as much as I can from as many people as I can.

A few quick yet powerful stories I would like to share with you:

  • I met a lady who is an IPP and RS. She hadn’t been in group for ten years as she was in the ‘too hard to handle’ camp. She has just finished Healing Trauma (HT) and loved it.
  • I met a lady who had virtually every bone in her body broken by an ex-partner. She had been released and she came back in to prison to attend a trauma conference, she wanted to share how much of an impact HT had had on her. She now wants to get a job back at this prison so she can carry on facilitating this to the women. She uses her exercises that she has learnt DAILY in order to get through.
  • One lady told me about her friend who said that after doing the HT course she felt strong enough to come off her meds…
  • One prison has over 60 women on their waiting list!
  • It’s worth sharing that many of the staff who met with me gave up days off in order to tell me about all the work they had been doing.
  • Reception areas have been repainted, signs have been taken down, BOSS chairs re located, furniture changed and upgraded.
  • Uniforms made. Women wearing bright pink ‘Trauma Champion’ sweatshirts so that they can be identified easily.
  • Staff at one prison admitted to feeling sceptical at the start of this process and then confessed that after the training they wanted everyone they knew to have the training, not just operational staff.
  • All the Governors (and two directors) I have spoken to so far – as I said I have four yet to go – remain supportive and enthusiastic about the training and about having the HT intervention in their prison.
  • Is it all rosy in the rose garden?? Of course not, this is the prison service!

So what are some the challenges?

The amount of training that is going on has really challenged some prisons. SASH training, FMI, C&R, health and safety to name but a few. Where does BTI end up? At the bottom. That’s understandable and it is what it is but it is also my hope that when some of the one off trainings have been done that BTI may forge ahead once more.

Some staff may not like it. The elephant in the room perhaps. Talking about emotions isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, let’s be honest. BTI is often a challenging thing to be trained in, if you don’t work well with the women, it maybe because you don’t work well for yourself…I am sure this will resonate with some when thinking about your own institutions.

The architecture which one inherits. That’s a big challenge. Things can be softened and improved but the building is the building.

One staff member said to me ‘you know, we are having to actually break the rules to do the right thing in many cases’. This is really depressing and has stayed with me.

The big one for me and probably the most fragile of all is momentum. This was and is a precious gift for the women’s estate. Whether it travels on, it will never lose its place of origin. It’s partly dependent on me and the team at One Small Thing, but it has everything to do with you working on the ground. Your enthusiasm and dedication is what has carried it for the last two years. Its your commitment to rolling out HT that is clearly changing women’s lives in profound ways.

It will take a collective push for me to realise my phase 1 dream. To see 100% of all operational staff trained and HT (and maybe other curriculum) running in all 12 prisons and for it to be firmly embedded in the POELT training by the end of 2018.

So what are the plans for 2018?

I have taken on a CEO who as of 15 January will be steering things. There is much to do and far more than myself, Tammy and Richard can do. It’s time that OST has a dedicated member of staff to work on things full time so that we can realise my dream for 2108 and maybe even have a party to celebrate our achievements this time next year!

Research – there will be pre and post-tests happening on HT in some prisons as impact and evaluation is important. Madeline Petrillo from Portsmouth University will be doing this.

There is talk about BTI in the male estate…there is clearly a need here that is irrefutable. However, it’s important to remind ourselves that anything done for the men is written for the men just as it is for the women. This is key to the success of the training and the interventions that are run.

Stephanie Covington will be returning to the UK in May of this year for more training. Things are being worked out as to how best use our time so you will hear more about that in due course.

I am really excited about the next phase for OST. We are growing. We are changing up a gear, I feel there is great momentum thanks to all of you and together I think we are going to make an enormous mark on the way we do business in the future in the women’s prison estate not just for the benefit of the women but for the benefit of you too.

So thank you to all of you, thank you to our small team at OST, thank you to the Clink, have a very Merry Christmas and see you in the NY!

Edwina Grosvenor

Edwina Grosvenor

Founder of One Small Thing

Edwina Grosvenor is a philanthropist and the founder of One Small Thing