The Samaritans are looking to recruit some extraordinary people to run workshops in two London prisons. Have you got what it takes? Find out more below. But be quick – deadline 30th June 2017. 

Many people go into prison not knowing what to expect. That’s why the Samaritans and HMPPS are running a six-month pilot project in two London prisons.

They are recruiting ex-prisoners to run workshops for people who are new to prison. The two-hour workshops will focus on how to stay emotionally well and cope during a prison sentence. Samaritans are recruiting up to 15 people to run the sessions and Group Leaders will be paid (£120 per session). They’ll receive full training and support too.

Here’s what one person who has benefited from being a Samaritan had to say:

“I’ll never forget my first night in prison. I felt vulnerable and unsafe. My family, my friends, the people I loved, seemed a million miles away.

I didn’t think I was going to get through it. Who could I trust? How should I behave? And what, if anything, was going to be waiting for me at the end of my time in jail? I had blown my chances and it looked as if my life was going to be all downhill from here.

I would never have admitted it though – I was a tough guy starting a five-year sentence, and didn’t want to show any sign of weakness. I needed a mask to hide behind, and I made sure it stayed in place, I felt my life depended on it.

I kept my head down over the next few weeks but felt as low as I’d ever been. Prison is very noisy and every time you think you might fall asleep something wakes you up. And then you remember where you are.

The turning point came when one of the prison officers talked to me about the Samaritans Prison Listener scheme. He said I’d be good for it. I was sceptical, I didn’t know what it was but he said it could help me, as well as giving me a chance to help other people. A Listener came to see me later that day, and he talked to me about what was involved, how he had found the training, and how he helped other prisoners. It was the first proper conversation I had in prison.

Becoming a Listener and learning new skills really helped me. Not just inside, but in my relationships with my friends and family, as well as helping other prisoners find a way through their problems. I have learned no-one is invincible and we all put on an act of being tough. Dropping the mask was a relief for me in the end, and my training has helped me see the beginning of a different life ahead.”

If you have been in prison and especially if you have been a Listener, you can find out more about this paid opportunity here.

The deadline for applications is 30th June 2017.