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Home arrow Law arrow The Voluntary Sector in Prisons: Encouraging Personal and Institutional Change

Personal Health Gains

Peer-based approaches also had the potential for personal health gains. Training to undertake the role would provide health information that the young men could use for themselves. They also viewed being a positive role model as important, particularly with regards to health behaviours such as exercise, diet, and smoking. This in itself was a motivation to be healthy where, ‘It would make me be healthy ‘cos I have to play the position. There’s no point if I’m not healthy myself.’ Furthermore, participants highlighted that taking on a responsible role could have a positive impact on their own confidence and self-esteem: ‘It’s a great title and position to have, I would tell my mum I am a Champion!’

Perform a Civic Duty

In addition to the personal gains associated with taking on peer role, many respondents reported that they wanted to perform a civic duty; as one explained: ‘I would like to give back to the community—like the prison community.’ A peer role represented an opportunity for personal redemption, as, ‘it gives me a chance to help other people not just myself. It’s time for a change as I used to think about myself a lot and I want to now help others.’ Participants who had previous negative experiences with healthcare were highly motivated to take on the role because: ‘I know what it is like be let down by healthcare so I can help others.’ These participants expressed a high level of empathy and a strong will to provide support to ensure that their peers didn’t experience similar problems. One young man shared his desire to use his experience to help others: ‘I know it would be hard for others to quit smoking so I could help as been through it. Especially in prison when your health is all you think about.’

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