Using Mindfulness therapies to increase engagement with work and education

Weston College continue to expand their delivery in prison education by now embracing the principles of mindfulness to support learners and staff.

Recognising the importance of well-being for learners, particularly in helping enable them to engage with learning, Weston College has developed a unique pilot programme at HMP Dartmoor.

Following research by The Association for Mindfulness in Education which found that mindfulness training can provide the best conditions for both teaching and learning, the pilot was launched in February with eight men identified for mindfulness based interventions. These men were not engaged in work or education and were all struggling to combat their substance misuse whilst in prison.

They began a programme designed to address the underlying reasons for their substance misuse and their lack of engagement in work, education and wider prison life. The aim was to have all eight men engaged, contributing to wider prison life and better equipped for release on conclusion of the programme.

Six weeks into the programme, five of the eight identified men became enrolled on and are regularly attending courses in education, from English and Maths, to ‘Better Man’ courses, and two of the eight men have gained employment within the prison.

Mindfulness is known to increase attention and decrease hyperactivity. It can also help learners address their anger management problems and anxiety and can significantly increase self-esteem.

As learners draw towards the end of the course there is a real sense of achievement for them all, in the very least because mindfulness, especially in a prison environment, can be hard work!