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Libraries change lives 08/10/10
Simon Parker
• Edinburgh continuously listed for the “Change Lives” award, Simon has short...
• It focuses on those who have been to prison but are choosing a life away from crime and
offending behaviour. It showcase...
• 15 volunteer-run news agencies
• This is a positive service that he can do every day
• Library service is very good, the...
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Libraries change lives and HMP Edinburgh: Simon Parker

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Libraries change lives and HMP Edinburgh: Simon Parker

  1. 1. Libraries change lives 08/10/10 Simon Parker • Edinburgh continuously listed for the “Change Lives” award, Simon has shortlisted Edinburgh twice. • Edinburgh’s libraries have worked so well because they have continually sought to consult, inform and involve the community regarding the development of their library service. • But how do you sustain projects with no money? • In Simon’s role he was asked to get more involvement from volunteers in the community to help with the library, not running it but helping in the library. • Simon wanted to try and do something that would help all of the community like in the Asylum seekers/engaging young people project. • Also wanted to do something with social media to engage young people, videos uploaded onto the young people site. • Filmed on iphones as they have no money for equipment. • Potential option – library building are not fully used and not in the right way, thought there could be something with using the space in the library buildings • Think of ways to get community partners into the libraries. • John Coster – an ex-offender who wanted to start a community news agency for Leicester. The news agency now covers young people, ex-offenders, LGBT, refugee & asylum etc. Originally the young people’s news Agency (Wave) was the only one in the library but now everything has moved in. • Citizens Eye (http://www.citizenseye.org/) – wanted to create something that has an actual outcome, something that people can see and say “that’s mine” • Mark Clark – video about “Inside ‘n’ Out “ magazine (http://inomag.org/) • Inomag – it was a website but they have now had 4 issues published • Inside ‘n’ Out Magazine is a project set up in association with Citizens Eye Community News Agency.
  2. 2. • It focuses on those who have been to prison but are choosing a life away from crime and offending behaviour. It showcases how individuals are achieving re-entry and contribution to the community ‘outside’ as well as covering work produced and experiences gained on the ‘inside’. • It also covers issues of debate within the Criminal Justice System, and offers users links to and information about other charities, public sector services and organisations that ex- offenders may find useful in their rehabilitative efforts. • Inside ‘n’ Out Magzine seeks to be an independent platform for those on both sides of prison walls to share experiences, with the ideal of providing better understanding between parties. • The project also provides ex-offenders with volunteering opportunities during which they can add to their skills and experience in the workplace, as a first step towards the rehabilitative pathway of gaining employment. • (Extract from http://inomag.org/) • Magazine is sent to rehabilitation officers, public libraries, criminal justice centres – any where that they can think of where ex-offenders might see the magazine. • The magazine has had such a positive reaction that they can’t meet the demand for the magazines. • Any ex-offenders wishing to help to get in contact with Mark • How libraries have helped Inomag – the library service has been very keen to help as they want to get to all communities and want the library to be seen as a community space and to promote the service to ex-offenders. • All sorts of people come into the library and having Inomag based there can help educate people the real issues behind offending, prison and ex-offenders. • Personally Mark thinks that all libraries should be involved with ex-offenders. There was a lot of mistrust around Mark because he was an ex-offender but with the libraries help he has managed to build up his reputation and trust through the magazine. • John Coster – Video about Citizens Eye (http://www.citizenseye.org/) • went to prison • When he came out he wanted to create the community news agency. • Started as a local voluntary news agency but has now grown into a partnership with the local newspaper and he has just been put on retainer because of the popularity of Citizens Eye so an opportunity for himself grew out of Citizens Eye • Currently there are about 450 adult volunteers, and 375 are young people.
  3. 3. • 15 volunteer-run news agencies • This is a positive service that he can do every day • Library service is very good, the Citizens Eye is integrated into the community with offices/computers in the library • Kevin – was an ex-offender at HMP Edinburgh so experienced the library first-hand • Library at HMP Edinburgh – not only a place where you could just borrow a book, you could talk, relax, have a hot drink, write letters/emails to family, they have computer games • Somewhere where you could ask for help • Addresses everyday issues whether they were racial, addiction, literacy • Kevin asked for help to arrange a Gambler’s Anonymous group • Not everyone open to talking about literacy problems but in the library it helped to talk to the offender assistants rather than the HMP staff • People came in to help teach the staff how to recognise Dyslexia, how to make the books/text easier to read • Libraries in the community became a distraction from the problems of re-entering the community • Simon – asked a group of offenders what they thought about the library service in Edinburgh – that it was the commitment of the Governor to get the library/education going but the ex- offenders said that if it could be sorted out so that level of service was available everywhere, it would be great.

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