Trainees look behind the bars

PT visits HMP Grampian

On Monday 3rd March our Positive Transitions trainees and staff had a fantastic opportunity to visit the new HMP Grampian in Peterhead before any prisoners arrived. The group were hosted by Cliff Hughes and Richard Skinner, the SPS staff who are earmarked to be running the media training centre within the Prison. Cliff and Richard have been joining our PT group in their radio sessions for the past few weeks to learn more about how radio engages young people and how the sessions run. To repay the favour they invited shmu for an exclusive viewing around the new prison.

The day was a brilliant experience for all; the trainees said it was great to gain firsthand experience of what it was like inside a real jail.  One trainee told us ‘It was ace to see how they will help the prisoners’.

The group were able to see round the various sections of the prison, including the different training rooms where trusted prisoners will have the opportunity to learn new skills and potentially gain qualifications in media, bike maintenance, kitchen work, cleaning, grounds maintenance and laundry.

A trainee asked why they would allow potentially dangerous criminals the opportunity to be around tools and kitchen equipment, and the team explained ‘It is all about rehabilitation and trust, helping a person change their life and learn new skills so they can move forward on release.’ They added ‘The majority of prisoners take great pride in their work and appreciate the small perks of  working in different departments like getting an extra helping of food while working in kitchens.’

The visitors also got the chance to see the cells. The trainees noted that the cells were ‘horrible’ and ‘the mattresses were like thin gym mats you got at school, the beds were short and the shower/toilets were tiny.’  Another trainee noted that if he were to sleep on it, his feet would hang over the edge.  The group also noticed the heavy security, commenting ‘there were doors everywhere and every one locked behind you, cameras everywhere.’

All in all, the visit went really well and all our trainees agreed that the prison was not a nice place to be despite the facilities. On their radio show afterwards they quoted a staff member who told us that ‘the prison facilities are better here, not for the prisoners necessarily but for the staff, it is a much better working environment.’

We would like to thank HMP and YOI Grampian along with Richard and Cliff for having us.  We also send out a very special thank you to the St Machar Parents Support Project for the loan of their mini-bus, which allowed our group to travel up to the visit in Peterhead and made the whole day out possible.