Mar 4, 2019

Spring report: connecting women

In January we ran RESTORE for a group of women in HMP Eastwood Park. We have been working in this prison since 2014 and RESTORE has a strong track record in engaging women who have resisted other programmes or been known to be hard to engage and retain.

"RESTORE has one of the highest retention rates across all the prison activities, that says to me it’s a very gripping programme and engages women at the highest level." - Amy Rogers, Programme Manager at HMP Eastwood Park

A key outcome of RESTORE is supporting women to build positive relationships with their peers. The majority of women in prison are themselves victims of a serious crime and so building trust with other participants can be an issue. Hearing each other’s stories opens up a space of safe vulnerable discussion. It is a powerful way of breaking down the isolation many women in prison feel, and helping them bond, trust and support each other on their journeys of change.

We want to share with you, in the words of the women who took part in RESTORE in January, how the programme has supported them to build connections with other women.

“RESTORE did so much for me – I needed connection and I know if I isolate myself I will run away. In RESTORE I found my connection to other women, my sisters, where before I had always feared them. RESTORE has given me the ability to look beyond other people’s masks and to ask why another acts the way they do. I feel I can be kind loving and gentle and open.”

“I realised that I needed to choose on my release a place where I felt I could connect to women and I need women in my life. RESTORE gave me confidence to be with strong women of whom I feared before. I asked Grace (participant of RESTORE, not her real name) for help as I was having a difficulty on the wing where before I would not have done this.”

“I realise from RESTORE we are all climbing mountains, and we can find a woman who will say ‘let me help you up this mountain’. They can’t always go all the way but when there is a crater, a woman will say ‘I’ve crossed this one before, let me help you over this’. I feel now there are not negative things but good things being planted in my soul and they are growing. I realise I have a choice even in this place of prison, to say what is good for me.”

Thank you so much for supporting this project! Could we ask you one more thing? Please share this report with a friend, colleague or family member and help bring awareness to this project so that we can continue supporting women in prison.

Jan 20, 2019

January Report: an exciting new year

Stories from The F Word in Metz, France.
Stories from The F Word in Metz, France.

Winter has been a busy time for The F Word! Since our last report, the exhibition has been seen in St Michael and all Angels' in Harrow, Burpham Church in Guilford, and the University of Gloucestershire for a special event for National Interfaith Week. In the last few months the exhibition has been seen by over 700 people!

“It was very special…. .The whole week was very moving and a great thing to do as a community.” 

“Very moving, thought provoking and humbling.”

“It had a profound impact on many people. It began lots of conversations and some difficult about people's situations. I learnt many realities of people’s lives I was unaware of, there are some amazing people around here. Many a tear was shed and I had to put extra boxes of tissues around! …. Thank you for all you do and the powerful influence the exhibition has on so many various lives!”

“Amazing. So very moving. Thank you.”

“There were very positive comments about how interesting/moving/informative the exhibition was. Lots of students stopped and read one story and then moved on to read several more…”

We also had an exciting opportunity for the stories from The F Word to be seen even further afield. From 19th to 30th November a selection of stories and images from The F Word were translated for ‘Pardon, par don: Transformer La Peine’, an exhibition in Metz town hall in France.

The F Word is what led to The Forgiveness Project being founded as an organisation, and as we celebrate our 15th anniversary this year, we are honoured to have been able to share the powerful stories of forgiveness in the exhibition with so many people all over the world. We couldn’t have done any of this without your support and we can’t wait to share with you all that 2019 will bring!

Dec 5, 2018

Winter Report: reflecting on the year

Artwork from women who participated in RESTORE
Artwork from women who participated in RESTORE

This is our first report for this project and we are delighted to share with you some of the amazing artwork that the women on RESTORE have created this year!

Having recognised that female prisoners need more time to build trust with both fellow participants and facilitators, we have explored how we can create a safe space for reflection and sharing. In the last year we have worked to fully embed the use of visual arts and creative writing within the programme. These elements have become a very powerful tool for the women to use both during the programme, and within their own time in their cells.

“I have found supernatural strength, I realise I have found myself in prison and that speaking my story in RESTORE has really helped me to do this…” — Participant

As we enter the Christmas season, we also want to highlight how difficult this time of year can be for those in prison. Whether it’s the first year having Christmas inside or the tenth, spending this time of the year without friends and family can be isolating and disorientating. 

We are so grateful that you chose to donate to this project, but could we ask you for one more thing? Please share this report with someone and help bring awareness to this project this Christmas. Right now this project is supported by a small group of people, but with your help we can raise more funds so that we can continue to support women prisoners in creating positive futures.

“RESTORE switched the light on in my head, coming made me realise I had to face my fears, deal with my problems, and before I let my fears control me and now I control them - I deal with everything, personally, physically, mentally and emotionally. In the past I blamed myself, I felt guilt and now I feel love.” — Participant

 
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