The African Prisons Project (APP) is a charity founded to improve the welfare, health and education of detainees in Africa. It works to restore dignity and hope to prisoners in Uganda and Kenya and in prisons across Africa to change the way that criminal justice issues are addressed and to empower prisoners to drive positive change.
In general, the conditions in African prisons are painfully poor. Many are severely overcrowded, lack sanitation and are unable to provide adequate nutrition. Access to books and education is limited or non-existent and medical facilities wholly inadequate. In Africa physical punishment and the death penalty are still widespread and for many people a prison sentence means hard labour. Police forces and prisons services are often underfunded and undertrained, and people might be imprisoned for being vagrants, debtors or criminal lunatics. The death penalty is given for witchcraft, mutiny, treason and cowardice and, in some countries, more than two-thirds of prisoners have not been convicted of an offence.
In 2004 Alexander McLean, an 18 year-old UK citizen volunteering in a hospital in Kampala, helped a group of prisoners in Uganda. Alexander returned to the UK and founded the African Prisons Project to provide models for human rights, rehabilitative approach to imprisonment which can be replicated by financially limited prisons services. Alexander has received many awards including Ashoka Fellow, TIME Magazine 30 Prestigious People Under 30, TED Senior Fellow, V Inspired Legend Award, Beacon Prize for Young Philanthropy and Overall Winner, Real World Graduate of the Year and Charity Volunteer of the Year.
Through our work with the MOE Foundation we were asked to provide training in coaching skills for African Prison Governors and Warders who are seconded to the UK every year by APP to receive education in healthcare, law and various other skills that may help make prisoner’s lives better.
We provided a three-day coaching course for the first group of secondees, covering foundation coaching skills, plus a series of practical assignments to embed the learning. They reported that coaching was the most useful aspect they had learned during their secondment.
Subsequent groups have been given three days of coaching skills training, a series of practical assignments to embed the training, and then three days of Train the Trainer training, so that they can pass on the skills in their prisons back home all over Africa.
The trainers we supplied to deliver courses for the APP have graduated as coach trainers on our MOE Coach Accelerator Pathway, through the free courses we deliver for the MOE Foundation. These trainers receive a small payment from the APP for delivering the courses but apart from this, we do not charge APP for our services. Most of the Coach Training, and all of the Trainer Training, has been delivered by Jeffrey Wotherspoon, now a fully fledged member of our coaching and training delivery team.
“It is with great pleasure that I bring you the best regards of all our returned cohorts of secondees, whom I’ve had the chance to meet with over the past weeks during my time in East Africa. Visiting their institutions and collecting their testimonies has once again highlighted the high value of the coaching trainings you have delivered: thank you for the precious contribution to our projects, I look forward to working with you on future Secondments. As I believe you know, all the officers collectively reported that the coaching training was an indisputable highlight of the Programme and that it really made a difference. This has only strengthened my viewpoint that your involvement in future Programmes should be absolutely confirmed and, as soon as we will have selected the final participants, I hope we can start planning for the next course together, so that it can have an even stronger impact on the secondees’ learning experience.” – Matteo Cassini, UK Learning Journey Officer, African Prisons Project
The African Prisons Project works to bring dignity and hope to men, women and children in prison in Africa through healthcare, education, access to justice and community reintegration.
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