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By Andy Mouncey, Feb 6 2019 06:55PM

So you think it’s hard breaking out of prison? You want to try breaking in.

This is what it takes for a new social enterprise with One Big Idea to get going in our Justice sector – as lived by Andy Mouncey of Run For Your Life CIC www.runforyourlife.org.uk


Timeline To Date

2012 First invitation to a Category C prison. Project pulled pre-start

2013 First short pilot delivered (unpaid) at a Cat D prison

2014-16 More testing – more pilots – still no ££

2016 RFYL Conception

2017 RFYL Community Interest Company incorporation

2018 Doors open – doors close: Repeat. Still no ££


The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 19

Times I’ve Honestly Thought About Quitting: 4

Times My Wife Has Given Me Permission To Quit: 2


Kissing Frogs

It goes with the territory: Sifting the wheat from the chaff – finding those who are mouth and trousers AND who genuinely welcome what you got as opposed to seeing it – and me - as a threat. I’d learned very quickly to be disarming from the outset especially with some Physical Education teams. My favorite opener:

‘I don’t want to work here and I don’t want your jobs.’

As a wind-out-of-sales / get-yer-attention gambit I’d yet to find anything as effective.


All of which means that when you do get a break from pushing water uphill it feels really REALLY nice.

So it was recently when I visited one of my ‘warm’ prisons again after a gap of about a year. Not that I’d be particularly idle in that time, you understand – just rejected bid after rejected funding bid that meant I was firmly in the ‘Nothing To Report’ file.

So it was a genuine delight to be warmly welcomed back by folks from the PE team I remembered from a year ago.

‘Are we still on?’

‘What do you need?’

‘Look – we’re still up for it and we can make it work!’


Of course I had a plan and a shopping list and an hour later we had a more detailed plan and a shorter shopping list. There was still the small matter of some ££ - but I had a new plan for that too. More importantly I left there feeling somewhat lighter than I arrived AND within touching distance of actually GETTING STARTED.

As long as we could make the ££ work…


By Andy Mouncey, Jan 21 2019 02:05PM

So you think it’s hard breaking out of prison? You want to try breaking in.

This is what it takes for a new social enterprise with One Big Idea to get going in our Justice sector – as lived by Andy Mouncey of Run For Your Life CIC www.runforyourlife.org.uk


Timeline To Date

2012 First invitation to a Category C prison. Project pulled pre-start

2013 First short pilot delivered (unpaid) at a Cat D prison

2014-16 More testing – more pilots – still no ££

2016 RFYL Conception

2017 RFYL Community Interest Company incorporation

2018 Doors open – doors close: Repeat. Still no ££


The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 19

Times I’ve Honestly Thought About Quitting: 4

Times My Wife Has Given Me Permission To Quit: 2


Pegs & Holes

You’ll like this: After months of applying to funds who say they support ‘Start Up’ or ‘Scale Up’ - I mean, I’ve now done 4 pilot versions which means I do have SOMETHING to show for my efforts and I really am somewhere beyond the ‘Ideas On A Page’ stage – and being knocked back because I’m told I don’t have anything meaningful to start or scale…(?!) I thought I’d go in the other direction: The Big Ideas funds (that support Starting or Scaling).


Obvious, right?

And just before Xmas the two latest came back – and you know what’s coming, right?

‘Sorry - your ideas are too well developed…’

??*!**%!!!!!!


All of which lead me to conclude the following:

Either my bid writing really is shit

Or my proposition really is genuinely ground-breaking and might as well have come from Mars - as clearly no one WITH MONEY TO SPEND has yet recognized it as a viable solution

Or I really will have to continue to do this thing on my own time and money until we are faced with re-mortgaging the house or I give up and decide to get a real job


However, given there is no real prospect of this last bit – after 18 years of working for myself I am probably unemployable by now – I’m faced with taking a hard look at the other bits.

Again (sigh).


Oh well: Remember the ‘two invitations’ goal from the MoJ Speed-Dating event in the previous blog? Well I got ‘em…


By Andy Mouncey, Dec 14 2018 03:09PM

So you think it’s hard breaking out of prison? You want to try breaking in.

This is what it takes for a new social enterprise with One Big Idea to get going in our Justice sector – as lived by Andy Mouncey of Run For Your Life CIC


Timeline To Date

2012 First invitation to a Category C prison. Project pulled pre-start

2013 First short pilot delivered (unpaid) at a Cat D prison

2016 RFYL Conception

2017 RFYL Community Interest Company incorporation

2018 Doors open – doors close: Repeat


The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 17

Times I’ve Honestly Thought About Quitting: 4

Times My Wife Has Given Me Permission To Quit: 2



Ministry of Justice Goes Speed-Dating

Dec 10th and MoJ has invited folks from the voluntary sector to get up close and personal with Her Majesty’s Prisons in the fair city of Milton Keynes. Given it’s not untypical to take a week to actually get to talk to the person you want to talk to on the phone in a prison, the prospect of going eyeball to eyeball with only a table between you is an unbelievably juicy prospect. It seems a ton of other folks from voluntary sector providers think the same – I walk into the meeting hall to be met by a wall of noise and a sea of people literally shoulder to shoulder.

Bloody hell!


Around 25 tables in the room mean representatives from around 25 prisons and the distinguishing feature is Seated=Staff, Standing=Providers. The dominant color is the usual prison service black so true to form and in the interests of being memorable I am in my usual corporate orange.


Being happily married for nearly 20 years means I am seriously out of dating practice – and I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t this level of…Feeding frenzy is somewhat melodramatic but it’s on the same continuum for sure!

I take a deep breath, assume a slim profile and still need 6 practice laps of the hall desperately looking for a familiar face before I’m brave enough to spot an opening and grab my first date. Shouting and leaning in is very un-English but the only way bar lip-reading to communicate. I feel for the prison folks for whom this is all an in-at-the-deep-end first – and who will need their vocal chords in the morning.


Of course once over the threshold it all gets easier.

‘We should all have done this ages ago’ remarks one smiling and somewhat croaky Head of Reducing Reoffending. Amen to that.

I give away a handful of business cards, get to practice my pitch again, and realize I can now name-drop around the sector and get attention very quickly.

Worth nine hours in the car? Oh yes – and if I don’t get two new invites from that little lot I’ll be disappointed.


By Andy Mouncey, Dec 14 2018 03:06PM

At the end of last year the MoJ ordered a review into the role of sport in rehabilitation and resettlement. The review is led by Professor Rosie Meeks and is due to report shortly. In advance of that Andy Mouncey of Run For Your Life CIC gives his take on why physical fitness should be put at the heart of rehabilitation.



I periodically field enquiries from folks in the business and education worlds on this whole health-wellbeing-stress reduction thing – and in the last year or so this has included the Justice sector as well:

What to do and be effective? What to start with? And how to know if it’s working?


Over the years I’ve spent countless hours developing detailed workshop content for a whole range of related health topics so that my extensive portfolio now looks like this:

Topic: Stress Management

Workshop Response: Take Some Exercise

Or…

Topic: Staff Wellbeing

Workshop Response: Take Some Exercise

Or…

Topic: Weight Management

Workshop Response: Take Some Exercise

You get the idea.


Because here’s the thing: You can have the worlds’ most comprehensive program of interventions on wellness-health-smoking cessation-diet-addiction-stress-people performance-education & leadership and all that but unless you have FITNESS at the top of the list the whole thing will take longer, be more complicated, and tracking cause-effect will be a damn sight harder.


So it’s Fitness First – here’s why:

• Progress is easily measured and it’s fast in the early stages – and when Confidence Is The Currency this is crucial


• Fitness is a Force Multiplier – other stuff falls into line faster and easier once fitness gains are made: It’s the ‘What Else? What Next? If I Can Do That…’ effect


• Fitness teaches Cause & Effect and Body-Mind connection. ‘Disinterested and no energy? Missed breakfast again, huh? And you know a workout before class means you can concentrate on your studies…


• Fitness and sport is a playground for real life. We get to practice skills for life in a safe supportive environment governed by made up rules we’ve all bought into. That means that when we stuff it up it doesn’t hurt as much because the stakes are lower – but the learning is as powerful if we have the wit and skills to pull the lessons


• Fitness moves you from feeling powerless to powerful: It’s your body (and mind) which means only you have made those improvements – and for someone where exploitation and dependency for example, has been the norm – this is the biggie


All of which means that while fitness is an end in itself it’s real power is in the Means: What it can lead to, what it makes possible, what it makes easier. So in rehabilitation and re-education this means that it is best used to break the destructive patterns and get folks – client groups and staff - ready and receptive to get the most from learning, training, employment – and their close personal relationships.


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