Strong Men Cry
As you already know, apart from working with my individual clients I also work in prison. I have passed a very demanding vetting process and now I am officially an “administration officer” in some London prisons. I usually meet young offenders (15-25 years old) that are at some point of their stay in this facility, usually for some relatively minor delicts.
My job in prison is divided in two main parts. During the first part my co-facilitator and I meet a group of young men and provide them with 2 or 3 day experience of a program called “Hero’s Journey”. The main goal of the program is to show these young people how to navigate through the tough time of change towards new, preferably better life. The second part of my work consists of several (up to 8) individual meetings with young people on their way out of prison and at the beginning of their stay in the outside community.
Coaching sessions in prisons are not very easy. First it takes plenty of time and effort to organize them. After you have got the permission to go into the prison you must find your clients – who usually rotate between cells. Finally it is time to find a place to work. The offices where we conduct our sessions are often very simple, not to say poorly furnished, not always exactly clean. And then you find yourself sitting in those very wretched circumstances to talk about such important issues. My most unbelievable session was in a segregation unit when I had to talk with my client via a little window in a door.
Alike in life outside the bars there are different types of clients in prison. Some of these young gentlemen have a clear plan, know exactly what they want from the sessions and their life. Others have problems to get out of bed for a meeting that we have not more often than every second week.
These are tough, strong men, that I meet. They have no fear of anything to protect their honour and family.
Then suddenly comes the day of their release. No matter how long they stay in prison it is a big day.
I had a unique opportunity to be with two of my clients on the day of their release. With one of them I was in the exact moment when he was asked to take his bag to leave the prison.
They were crying at the edge of freedom.
Both of them assumed that the time behind the bars was a good lesson regarding the importance of being free. Not the money, not the power but the freedom to watch the stars during a dark, windy night.
For us outside this brings three important findings:
–> Never ever limit the freedom of ourselves or people around us if it is not absolutely necessary, because freedom is the most important value.
–> Make sure that we notice stars above our heads, because we can.
–> It is OK to cry, when big things happen in your life.
And last but not least, remember to be really free when you are free.
This was the last article before my summer break. I wish you have wonderful vacation. See you in September.