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Long Sutton man and his father talking to students about the realities of prison life

By Spalding Reporter

A father and son are helping to educate youngsters about the realities of prison life by talking to them about what it is really like serving a jail sentence.

Between them, Colin Braginton and son Matthew have more than 30 years’ experience working in the Prison Service and for the past five have been taking their unique presentation to secondary schools around the country.

Through their programme 'Prison, A Reality' they talk to students about the importance of making the right choices, the long-term consequences their actions can have for themselves and their families as well as answering questions and dispelling myths that prison is glamorous.

Matthew Braginton who talks to students about the realities of prison life (10514368)
Matthew Braginton who talks to students about the realities of prison life (10514368)

“There is a real need for the information we’re sharing,” said Matthew, of Long Sutton.

“PSHE work in schools is teacher led, but we have real experiences we can talk to them about and draw on. Although many schools have the police come in and chat to pupils about anti-social behaviour that’s where it tends to end.

“We can fill that gap and give them the information about what will happen next; we talk to them about statistics – there are 30,000 crimes reported from UK’s schools each year and we’re seeing different types like cyber bullying more now as more teenagers have phones.”

“We can answer all their questions and give it to them straight from the heart – and we’re seeing that there’s a real need for it. The majority of the schools we go to have asked us back to talk to their pupils again, which shows it’s working,” adds Colin.

'Prison, A Reality' is quality assured by Lincolnshire County Council and part of its Stay Safe Partnership. The idea came about when Colin worked in a police station in Skegness, where he was first asked to talk to youngsters about their behaviour and then to put a presentation together for local schools.

He teamed up with Matthew and they now visit schools throughout Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, as well as travelling as far afield as Devon and Lancashire to deliver their message.

“One thing that has stuck with me over the years is the number of prisoners who’ve said to me ‘if someone had told me what I know now’ or ‘if I had been shown a different way at the tight time in my life, I wouldn’t have ended up where I am and ruined my whole life’ and that’s what this is all about,” adds Matthew.

“During our presentation we talk about Billy’s Story; he’s a prisoner I worked with who became a career criminal following a mistake he made early in his life.

“It was all due to a simple push – not a violent one – he pushed someone, who fell backwards and banged his head on the floor and died from his injuries.

“You don’t have to be a criminal to end up prison – it can be down to a split second decision which can ruin your whole life.

“We’re not targeting ‘naughty’ children, we’re trying to educate them all about the impact their decisions and actions can have on their futures.”

'We know it's making a difference'

Prison, A Reality is not a trust or a charity, it is a business and in order to make the presentation accessible to more schools, multiple school conferences are being launched this year, with the first on July 1 in Bradford.

Matthew said: “We know schools have very tight budgets so we’re hoping this will help reduce costs, get parents involved and make the presentation more accessible to more schools.

“We know it’s making a difference – we get great feedback and are asked to return to the majority of schools we visit, pupils are really engaging with us.

Colin and Matthew Braginton of A Prison, A Reality (10514349)
Colin and Matthew Braginton of A Prison, A Reality (10514349)

“In some instances there have even been incidents reported that schools had no idea about, so it’s helping to empower victims too.”

“We just want to encourage these youngsters to live their dreams – and not dream about the life they could have had,” adds Colin.

* For more information about Prison, A Reality, to book a presentation or to find out about sponsoring a school visit log onto www.prisonareality.co.uk


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