Our CEO’s Recent Experience of Custody


Young inmate looking depressed in prison cell

Our CEO Andrez Harriott has shared a recent experience when working with a group of young people in custody………..

“In light of last weeks four murders in London, two involving children I am sharing today’s work experience to explain the mistrust held by some young people towards adults and how this may contribute towards their lack of trust in adults to help resolve conflicts within the community.

Today we had to meet with 12 new young people who will be attending our offending behaviour programme. We meet them individually and showed them the names who will be attending to prevent conflicts within the group creating a safe space for reflection. 2 of the young men were out on the yard with 18 others having association. This is supervised by two prison staff who stood well away from the group. As we approached, the group stopped talking and looked suspicious. Some began reaching into their waist bands which is a defence against a potential threat, whether they had weapons or not.

We knew two of them and the other 18 were new to us. The young man from last week mouthed to them “ they are cool “which gave us a window to explain our intentions. This didn’t mean we were without risk, it meant we had a window. We were there to speak with two young people for our programme.

I walked around the entire group and shook hands telling them not to be suspicious, there was no angle, it was blessed and then in the moment analysed what was taking place. The group had projected their feelings onto us of suspicion and the potential for conflict, all without using words. We in turn contained those feelings enabling them to work through their fear, anger and suspicion within seconds giving us access to the entire group. We represented two men who had entered their safe space and were unknown.

Although we are twice their age, as men we represent the failings of elder men on the road who have violated them, fathers who have domestically abused them and their mothers, teachers who have failed them, authoritative figures who have lied to them and professionals who have caused them more harm than good. Their eyes were filled with so much anger and suspicion that we had to bring the entire situation under control. These young men were contemplating an attack but through our projection of pure love, the co-signing of one young man who is highly respected, and our faith we were able to manoeuvre without an issue.

You see, part of the problem we have is a generation that has given up on us as men and as adults. They are willing to strike regardless of who you are. We are both men of stature but within their group, they could have easily caused us harm. Why have we let children become so isolated that they can no longer differentiate between men or women who are willing to help and men or women who are there to cause harm.

These murders are evidence of a generation that has completely given up on themselves and can only respond to the marginalisation and oppression they and their families have experienced by inflicting the same pain that has been systemically and systematically inflicted upon them……”

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