Coaching Behind Bars
This inspirational book describes how Clare McGregor set out to do just that. Reading it, you will find a lot of your preconceptions about prisons and prisoners challenged. The book celebrates the amazing resilience of the human spirit. Willingness to take risks and learn from mistakes helped coaching adapt and thrive, even behind bars.
The process and questions for a prisoner are the same as for any client: What do you want to change? What's holding you back? How can you take a first step towards achieving what you want? Equally importantly, the book asks: What does it take to work in this challenging environment? Dozens of fascinating stories bring alive the reality: that coaching can work as well in a prison as it does anywhere else.
"I rarely suggest that a book should be required reading on coach training courses, but I have no hesitation in doing so in this case."
David Clutterbuck, David Clutterbuck Partnership, UK
'What do you want from coaching?' Clare McGregor asks a prisoner. 'Hope', she replies.Coaching Behind Bars certainly gives us that. It is a powerful and compassionate exploration of the challenges facing women prisoners seeking to take control of their own lives, and the work of those who assist them to do so. In bringing alive the role of coaching, Clare's impressive book has a wider relevance that gives great insight into but extends well beyond the prison walls.
Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam, Great Britain
A stark and thought provoking read, that totally makes sense! Having witnessed first-hand the importance of coaching, assisting and empowering a person who may have made a few ill-judged choices in life, to turn a bad situation good; I applaud the author for keeping it real, whilst demonstrating the true value of coaching.
James Timpson OBE, Chief Executive of Timpson
During almost 40 years of working in all types of prisons I have not come across many people who were willing to volunteer their services to support prisoners, indeed until relatively recently this type of activity would not have been encouraged. I feel strongly enough about this initiative, having seen it in progress, to suggest that it has the potential to be as effective as any other intervention used in prisons to reduce re-offending.
This is a wonderful book, far more than a book about coaching, it provides a very accurate picture of life behind bars and allows the reader to view the prisoner as more than just an individual that society deems requires punishment, without really trying it shows that many of these women are victims themselves and require far more support than being locked up. That through this scheme "we can unlock hope" is surely a wonderful testament that can restore our faith in human nature, this book certainly pulls at the heart strings and is also a must read for students of the Criminal Justice agencies.
Clive Chatterton, former Governor of Styal Women's Prison
Focusing not on what offences have been committed but practical and tough solutions to help 'clients' achieve inner strength, Clare McGregor has changed the lives of women and staff at HMP Styal, largely with nothing more than a prisoner number, a bicycle and optimism. Claire is a star and the outcomes are stellar. To understand the reference, read the book - it will change your life and the lives of others - inside and out.
Felicity Gerry QC
This powerful book took me back to my time in HMP Styal and made me question whether things would have been different if I had the opportunity to be coached by CIAO. I have literally 'laughed out loud' and cried at the insightful, emotive, yet oh so familiar content; which made me eagerly read on. Major credit needs go to all the coaches and the women who have found themselves in Styal and taken the opportunity to be involved. Clare is one amazing woman who is real to herself and this shines through.
Natalie Atkinson, BSc Hon, former offender
Clare McGregor's book offers a wakeup call for those who see coaching as the preserve of only the rich and privileged. With raw, personal candour Coaching Behind Bars describes Clare McGregor's reaction to the tough life of prison inmates. She also gives an insight into moments of joy and revelation. If you want to set yourself a challenging CPD task, this book sets the bar (the prison bars) very high indeed.
David Megginson, Emeritus Professor of HRD, Sheffield Business School
This is such a refreshing book. Amidst all the debate about what the nature of 'what works' and how financial mechanisms such as procurement and payment by results might improve rehabilitation this book provides an inspiring account of how people, when supported at the right time and in the right way turn their lives around. It is story about women in a women's prison and in that sense it's very particular. But it is also a universal story about human struggle, compassionate support and triumph against all the odds.
Clive Martin, CEO, Clinks
This is a great book; it oozes humanity on every page. It is a challenging read - people not acquainted with the realities of crime and punishment will learn a lot about both from the powerful case studies and from the author's personal reflections. Those well acquainted with crime and punishment, through their work, will be challenged to rethink what they do and how they do it. Clare McGregor tells us that humans come up with better solutions by 'being curious (rather) than furious' (p6) but I think I disagree; it is the combination of both insatiable curiosity and consuming fury at human suffering and injustice that makes her and her book so special. As one woman she has coached puts it: 'you ask all the right questions'. Readers of this book should be prepared to be challenged (like anyone else Clare coaches) to come up with their own answers; but the author certainly helps us along the way.
Fergus McNeill, Professor of Criminology and Social Work, University of Glasgow
Prison is hardly ever about hope, choice or personal responsibility, and women's prisons in particular are suffused with a sense of loss, dependency and abject failure. Coaching Behind Bars offers prisoners the rare opportunity to begin to shape their lives and make plans for a life beyond custody and beyond despair.
Juliet Lyon CBE, Director, Prison Reform Trust