West Dorset woman who uses horses to help prisoners gets to see how it's done stateside (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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West Dorset woman who uses horses to help prisoners gets to sees how it's done stateside
FOR three years Askerswell’s Harriet Laurie has been using her horses to help young offenders break the destructive cycle of offending.
Now thanks to a Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust she is off to see how they use horses in a similar way stateside.
She started her HorseCourse at Portland Young Offenders Institute and it has been so successful she has trained other people and the course has been running in four prisons in the country, including the Verne and Eastwood Park Women’s Prison in Bristol.
The HorseCourse has Martin Clunes and Lord Jim Knight as patrons.
She uses the horses to teach inmates how to control their emotions and to focus – and academics have validated its success.
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has a new penal reform category and this year only 15 people were awarded money – Harriet was one of them.
Hers is also the first-ever horse related project to get a Churchill Fellowship.
The money will mean she can spend five weeks studying how institutions in America and Canada have been using horses to rehabilitate prisoners and at-risk youth.
She said: “It is very exciting but quite stressful as well working out how to find the time to go!
“It was a scary interview process in front of an impressive panel of people from the Prison Reform Trust and WCMT led by Baroness Linklater and with Lord Robert Fellowes who was the Queen’s Private Secretary.
“I had to explain what I was going to learn from it that I couldn’t learn here.
“I said the Americans are doing way more of this than we are here this and I am going to meet and work with the best I can find.
“There is also a lot of interest in our programme from the practitioners in America.
“They are as keen to have me show them what I am doing as I am to see what they are doing. I hope to learn and share - this is an area of innovation and it's important to keep developing and testing what works and what doesn't. The point of the Fellowship is to bring 'best practice' back to the UK and share that with British practitioners.”
Not only that but she is organising pilots of her HorseCourse for pupils from the schools referral unit and is in talks with primary schools about developing a teacher tool kit so they know how to use non verbal techniques to change behaviour.
Harriet said: “If we could add to the skills of teachers to notice difficulties really early on and have extra strategies for developing emotional skills and positive behaviour, perhaps we wouldn’t see these kids later on in prisons.
“That for me is a really exciting development and I'd be delighted to hear from Bridport primary schools if they would be interested in participating in the pilot. Email firstname.lastname@example.org"
The Winston Churchill Trust was established on Sir Winston’s death in 1965.
£2.8m was raised for the Trust by public subscription on his death.
It supports more than 100 British citizens each year to travel overseas for between 4-8 weeks.
113 Fellowships were awarded in 2012 More than 4695 Fellowship awards have been made since 1966.
Grants cover all travel, food, accommodation and insurance.