story 25 March 2024

Young Offender William is determined to do something positive with his time in prison

A young person lifting weights in prison. His face is obscured by the weight and we can see the prison officer in the background.

Having done DofE himself, William’s dad wanted him to follow in his footsteps – but William wasn’t interested at the time, instead focusing on ‘partying and selling drugs’. When he was given the opportunity to do his DofE during his time at HMP Rochester, he saw it as an opportunity to do something positive with his time in prison.

“Before starting my DofE I’d done a lot of negative things and got into a lot of trouble for the first half of my sentence, so I wanted to do something positive with the second half. Since I started doing positive things, more positive things have happened in my life. I’ve got a job on the wing. It’s also improved my relationships with prison staff and I’ve found a new hobby with strength training, so a lot of positive things have happened as a result of DofE.

“I started strength training for my Physical section. Before DofE, I didn’t know how to train properly – but the PE staff wrote me a programme to show me how to improve my strength. They helped me a lot. I’ve really enjoyed going to the gym. It’s given me a new hobby and interest.

“We couldn’t go out on our expedition because we can’t leave prison, so we planned a route on a map of where we would go and included different forms of transport like cycling on roads, walking on footpaths and rowing across rivers and streams. Then we did the route on treadmills, exercise bikes and rowing machines in the gym.

“During the expedition, we could cook our own food, like burgers and we played football in the fields. For most of my sentence I’ve been locked up behind my door 23 hours out of 24 hours, whereas on the expedition we were out for the whole night – which felt weird to be honest, like someone was going to tell me off for being up too late! It felt like freedom.

“DofE has helped me socialise with other people and I’ve learned the importance of teamwork. Although I’ve already got a job in construction when I get out, if I were to go for a different job DofE could definitely help me, as I know employers really see it as something good on your CV. DofE is a positive way to spend your time in prison and can help lead to other opportunities both within prison and outside.

“When I leave prison I don’t want to go back to my old ways. I want to get a job and go to the gym. DofE has really given me a new direction in life. The First Aid, I learned for my Skills section could help quite a lot because, when I leave prison and return to my job in construction, there’s a lot of injuries in that area of work. Because of the course, I could help someone in an emergency situation. I’ve recommended DofE to a lot of people and I think it would be really good in if it was run in all prisons.”

Running DofE in Prisons and Young Offender Institutions.

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