Prisoners set to learn first aid skills

First aid training web

A programme to teach prisoners how to save lives is being rolled out after a successful pilot

8th August 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Prisoners are set to be taught key lifesaving skills.

From this month, prisoners across Scotland’s central belt will be able to learn first aid thanks to a funding boost secured by St Andrew’s First Aid.

The opportunity follows a highly successful 12-month pilot project, which ran in HMP Low Moss in East Dunbartonshire and HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow, delivered by the charity in collaboration with the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and Fife College. An additional £7,000 funding has been secured from National Lottery Awards for All to roll the project out to other prisons.

Restart – First Aid in Prisons saw more than 100 prisoners undertake first aid training during the pilot. It was trialled after several of them expressed an interest in learning a life skill that would add to their own personal development as well as be both practical and beneficial. 

Voluntary participation in educational initiatives can be problematic for some prisoners given previous poor experiences or a lack of functional literacies skills. A practical programme such as first aid certification can be achieved through on-site demonstrations and class work, which helps provide confidence and improve self-esteem as well as provide an ideal skill to learn. The qualification is a recognised accreditation that lasts for three years, providing a stepping-stone for individuals looking to secure future employment or as an introduction into adult learning. 

The success of the pilot led the SPS and Fife College to approach St Andrew’s First Aid to explore expanding the initiative to additional prisons in the central belt of Scotland. Having secured the necessary funding, the charity began delivering training sessions on Monday 5 August and the programme will run over the next 12 months. Training will be delivered as a single session or split into two sessions if necessary.

Stuart Callison, chief executive of St Andrew’s First Aid, said: “Bringing first aid into prisons is helping to equip people with a skill that will support them in the next step of their lives once they have left the unit.

“Our community team developed a bespoke syllabus that would engage and enable inmates to learn first aid and attain a recognised qualification. I am delighted by both the take up and success of the pilot, which has created the opportunity for us to take the sessions into more prisons and offer it to even more people.

“First aid training isn’t just about the ability to save a life. It goes further than that by instilling greater confidence in individuals and boosting a sense of contribution to society. 

“We’re looking forward to getting started with the next sessions and to enabling more people to learn how to save a life.”

James King, head of learning and skills at the Scottish Prison Service, said: “We witnessed a real appetite for first aid training during the initial trial, which was reflected in the speed in which the available courses were signed up to.

“Integrating back into society can be a challenging time on many levels for ex-prisoners but having a recognised and relevant qualification can really help improve their chances of securing employment, which in turn, can reduce their chances of reoffending.

“We now have the opportunity to offer a recognised qualification to those in our care in a number of prisons across the central belt, which I am confident will be as well received and as successful as the pilot project.”

One prisoner who underwent the training said: “I feel so much more confident after doing the course. I have a young baby at home and although I hope nothing ever happens to them, I now know that I could help them if they were ever to have an accident, choke or fall unconscious. It’s a really good feeling to have.”