Governor Dr Jamie Bennett
Thank you for presenting at the London & Thames Valley Rehabilitative Culture Workshop.
The aim of this event was to launch and embed our shared commitment to develop rehabilitative cultures in all of the prisons. This requires us to reflect upon and develop our values, practices and services.
Your presentation was an essential part of the day. You helped to reinforce the progressive and positive aims of prisons, to play a role in achieving social justice. You also offered ideas that spoke on a personal level, about our own conduct and behaviour, as well as the more strategic development.
I am very grateful to you for taking the time and contributing to this workshop. Your presentation helped to make the day a success.
HMP Channings Wood
Jez Fisher – Head of Reducing Re-offending
Gethin came to Channings Wood to speak to both staff and men in our care, to deliver ‘Seeds of Belief’. It was inspiring and riveting to hear the story of how he turned his life around. He was open and honest about where he came from , the decisions he took and how his early days seemed to mould him into a life of crime. But as you listen to him and he explains the part that so many people played in helping him slowly change, sow the seeds and turn his life around was truly inspiring, and with a great deal of truth and humour thrown in.
The staff I spoke to after the event and still to this day say they found his talk made them think about the little things they do every day that can help make a different to someone’s life and they were full of admiration for how Gethin has changed and how he came across on his talk.
HMP Channings Wood
When our men came to listen to Gethin, they were sitting in the chapel with, what appeared to be a disinterest in this chap in a smart suit, about to “preach” to them about prison life and one lad said to me “here we ago, someone else to tell us about us changing our ways, but knows nothing about what its really like”.
However after the first couple of minutes when Gethin dropped his “ I was one of you” , lines every man there seemed to change their demeanour.
They sat up, paid attention to what he was saying, heads were nodding as he spoke and at times you could have heard a pin drop from them as they were riveted by what Gethin was saying.
I would wholehearted recommend Gethin to come and talk to both staff and people in custody at your establishment.
Director of Thames Valley Prisons Group
Gethin is one the most inspirational speakers I have ever heard. His personal story of transformation lit up the room at a recent event I hosted, and the audience listened with spellbound attention.
His is a story of hope in the face of adversity, and resilience in the face of a society which is quick to condemn, and slow to offer redemption. His narrative that people, not systems and processes, change lives, will offer hope to organisations of any size, that it is the people they employ who have the power to become instruments of personal transformation, and that their effort is worthwhile and of real value every day of their lives.
I recommend Gethin to anyone who is seeking to inspire and revitalise a Workforce or Individuals, that they matter and that achievement and success is a state of mind.
Kerrie Brooks Programme Manager and Prison Lead for Rehab Culture
Some Feedback from staff who attended the first half of the day was; “It’s great to see that the small things we do can make a big difference,” “Gethin has given me a new sense of purpose for my future career”, “I really enjoyed the training, it was relevant and worthwhile”.
At the Residents event, Gethin made his way around the venue and greeted our Residents as they arrived. This was appreciated by all, and assisted Gethin in engaging our Residents from the start.
On the back of these very successful events I have been asked by Residents for more information about Charities such as Clinks, and other companies that support offenders being released from Prison to resettle. I have also been approached by a number of staff from a range of Grades and Disciplines who want to be more involved in our Project Work and support our priority to develop a rehabilitative culture.
HMP Guys Marsh
Suzy Young – Learning & Skills Manager
Gethin came to Guys Marsh to deliver ‘Seeds of Belief’ to staff and residents. It was inspiring to hear his story and the hardships he went through to turn his life around. Both staff and residents were able to reflect on his words and his important message.
We were overwhelmed with the engagement and respect that he was given. It was clear to see from the questions that the residents were asking him just how much of an impact he had made on them. Two of the men also asked Gethin for his contact details so that they could write to him for guidance on taking the next steps to turning their own lives around.
Gethin had a unique approach to his delivery, he was entertaining and humorous yet still able to tailor his message to suit both staff and residents in a way that everyone could understand.
I took Gethin on a tour of some of our workshops and he appeared genuinely interested in the work we do here at Guys Marsh. He was approachable to all residents that he met and more than happy to have a chat and tell them about himself.
We are looking forward to welcoming Gethin back here soon.
HMP Warren Hill
Matthew Deal – Head of Reducing Re-Offending
Gethin Jones was very professional, appropriate, approachable and seem to connect well with the residents that attended his “Unlocking the potential” inspirational talk.
Gethin explained his early troubles in life and how he ended up prison and how he managed to turn his life around into something positive and rewarding.
It seemed to me that Gethin managed to make our residents reflect on their own lives and help them believe in themselves to progress forward.
Our Residents thanked him thoroughly and gave him a loud cheer at the end and all made a point of talking to him and thanking him for his time.
From my point of view it proves that whatever your background, historic events and negative views that anyone can change and make a real go in life.
Please see below some comments from residents:
P A (Alder)- The talk was very good, very enjoyable and informative. He was geared up to really help people and left contact details so I could contact when I am released.
D W- (Alder)- Found the talk very informative, and made me think that you have to want to change to give yourself a chance to change. He told his whole story from start to finish.
E P (Oak) – The talk was very inspiring. it was very detailed and gave a good insight in to his life and changes he made.
Deputy Governor – Claud Lofters
I really enjoyed Gethin’s presentation on the subject of unlocking potential so much so that I was late for another meeting. I found Gethin’s personal journey inspirational. We currently measure re-conviction rates not successes. Gethin’s story makes what we do here tangible and real. The phrase I often quote “it’s not the person that we lock up but the person we let out that reduces risk”. Gethin is an example of this. What struck me is that his personal journey is also ours in the custodial services. We must persist in believing everyone has a second, third and as many chances or opportunity to change.
It is hard to believe in something you cannot see. we need to see beyond the person in front us and see something in a person that even they cannot see or believe exist. It is so easy to stereotype and write some off. What Gethin’s experience demonstrated is that we are a people organisation looking after people. We all live complex lives to a degree and our choices can be down to marginal decisions we make or the influence of one good person. We need to be that good influence and that voice of wisdom that there is a different path to follow.
Governor Ian Blakeman
Gethin’s talk was lively, enthusiastic, funny but very much got the point across that it is people that can have an impact on others. People were gripped by what Gethin was saying and it was one of the best staff turn outs to a staff meeting we have had in recent times.
The impact was great. Lots of people were talking about it after the event. The men I spoke to that came to the afternoon all said how impressed and worthwhile it was to have attended.
‘We’ve heard other people speak, Gethin’s talk was different. It was about what we can do as people, not process or what skills are on offer, just how having the time, empathy and thoughtfulness from people can make all the difference to someone’s lives.’
‘It was thoroughly worthwhile coming to Gethin’s talk, I know what I need to do now and I am focused on getting out of prison and making something from my life,’
Staff and Residents
We first noticed Unlocking Potential when Gethin liked a Twitter post about HMP Woodhill, so I thought I’d see what it was about, intrigued I Direct Messaged Gethin, getting a prompt response, a few emails and phone calls later we had him Booked In for June 18th .
I was given lots of information on what Gethin had done at other prisons and was confident that both staff and the men in our custody would benefit . Gethin’s relaxed, relatable style of delivery was perfect – his message is simple but profound.
For me the best words to describe Gethin visit come from one of our men, Paul , “I wasn’t sure if he’d get the respect when he started but he definitely had it at the end”. Paul has been with us on numerous occasions, but with just one visit the impact was there he wants to stay in touch with Gethin and keep progressing .
Other men mentioned – “we were talking about it as we walked back to the Wing , and are still talking about it now.” – “when’s he coming back, we want others to hear what he has to say.”
Personally I’ve never seen a speaker have so much impact and I know that at HMP Woodhill we really want as many return visits as Gethin can do , both for the men and the staff .
Andy Laidlaw Head of Reducing Re-offending
I am Prison Governor and have worked for the Prison Service for over 20 years.
I have known Gethin for a few years having met him at various Prison Reform events. I was aware of his work but had never actually seen him address an audience until recently.
I have to say it was one of the most effective deliveries I have seen. Gethin delivered his ‘Seeds of Belief’ Presentation to a group of Prison staff and then later to prisoners.
He ‘spoke’ to his audience, changing the content and style of delivery to suit the people he was speaking to and he held their attention with apparent ease.
He was both entertaining and serious in equal measure. He had his audience switching from gasps to laughter as he told his very personal but poignant life story.
He is a true inspiration and the definitive Motivational Speaker.
Portsmouth University Criminology Department
Megan Thomas – Portsmouth University Criminology Department
Gethin presented a lecture on my Level 5 Community Justice module (within ICJS at the University of Portsmouth), many of the students in the group are considering careers within probation or the criminal justice system.
The lecture was very well pitched and gave them a really important insight into the experience of someone who has been through the criminal justice system and is now able to identify what and who helped them to stop offending.
I really appreciated Gethin’s honesty in telling his story and I know the students did too. I feel that it is very important to hear real life examples to enable the students to really appreciate the realities of what they are reading, talking and writing about within their studies.