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Home  >  News  >  Prison Course is First for Scotland


Prison Course is First for Scotland

Wednesday April 25 2018


The three Journey to Freedom graduates and their facilitators. From left: Matthew, John, Deirdre Yellowlees (chaplain, HMP Perth), Alyxs Shaw (youth worker, Perth and District YMCA), Craig, Franny McGrath (operations manager, Perth and District YMCA).

Three inmates at Perth Prison have become the first in Scotland to complete the Journey to Freedom course, delivered by the prison chaplaincy team and Perth YMCA.

Journey to Freedom arose from the YMCA Restore Small Groups course founded by Scott Reall in 2000, and is increasingly used in penal systems in the US and elsewhere as a formal part of progression and rehabilitation.

Delivered in small groups led by trained facilitators, it helps people begin to redefine and address areas of their lives where they have seen themselves as without hope.

Prison chaplain Deirdre Yellowlees says: “The course is led by trained facilitators and offers a safe and encouraging place for participants to step out of contemplating change into real action acknowledging that a positive relationship with God and others is critical in developing a lasting resilience.”

The Perth group was facilitated by Deirdre, with Alyxs Shaw and Franny McGrath from Perth YMCA. Although three students dropped out through transfer and illness, John, Matthew and Craig graduated in early March as the first JTF students in the UK. Their achievement was recognised by a celebration at which they were presented with certificates.

Deirdre says: “The participants testify to the skills and empathy of the facilitators that enabled them to journey through material that requires courage and commitment, finding hope renewed or even recognising this for the first time. With confidence developed and nurtured, the growth of development within, resources to equip and enable further self-understanding and growth the course has been a great success.

“Moving forward, with support from YMCA locally one of the students will be trained as a facilitator after release supporting his own development and regeneration. We also intend to offer further courses throughout the prison ensuring we provide positive opportunities for those in our custody.”


Isobel McBride - Friday, May 4th, 2018

“Wish every success to those involved and to those working towards Freedom.

Angus - Saturday, May 5th, 2018

“Well done to all concerned. It's great to hear of such positive work and that folks' lives are being impacted in this way.”

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