Journey to Freedom is an 8-week programme, during which inmates are encouraged to consider the role that self-esteem, fear, relationships, faith and past experiences play in their lives.
Journey to Freedom arose from the YMCA Restore Small Groups course founded by Scott Reall in 2000. It is now increasingly used in penal systems in the US and elsewhere where it has proven to significantly reduce re-offending rates and to support inmates as they reintegrate into society.
Through the work of Perth YMCA, Journey to Freedom has been extremely well received in Scotland.
Last year, the team delivered 3 courses. The Head of Offender Outcomes fully backs the programme and the team has worked closely with HMP Perth Chaplaincy, the Scottish Prison Service and the National Chaplaincy Team to raise the profile of Journeys to Freedom in Scotland.
Last April, an article about the first Journeys to Freedom course in Scotland featured in Life & Work. The article caught the attention of BBC Radio Scotland and Bob Dickson, who hosts Sunday Morning With, attended one of the training sessions and interviewed some of the participants. The interviews aired at the end of last year.
Last year, 14 participants completed the programme and their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive:
“Journey to Freedom has given me tools to build a better life for myself. It talks about setting a solid foundation for life and I hope to do that.” – David
“From the start til the end, this course has opened my mind to move to more faith than the past and also has given me more joy.” – Matthew
“I started my Journey to Freedom bored and uninterested in life, now I am almost out of prison and ready for long term action.” – Stuart
“I started at a low point in my life and now feel a better understanding of how I got there and how to change.” – Gary
To continue to grow this work in Scotland, Perth YMCA has secured funding from Restore Ministries Nashville and the Basil Death Foundation.