Over the past two and a half  months or so First Time Inside has engaged with, what we rightly or wrongly refer to as the justice network in Scotland, at a variety of levels.

The primary goal, if I am bluntly honest, was to ascertain whether or not there exists an opportunity for this project and peripheral ideas to operate successfully within this uniquely constructed market sector. By and large the welcome at meetings from lawyers offices to third sector organisations has been warm and more importantly the encouragement to proceed has been almost exclusively positive. Meetings with those faced with prison have been exhausting yet rewarding.

I have had the good fortune to meet a number of truly inspiring people and there are so many more I look forward to meeting in the coming months. I think it’s fair to say that my idea of service provision in relation to the ideas behind First Time Inside has evolved rather quickly during this period of research come audition come actual work if you like and goes beyond the simple message of helping people faced with prison for the first time. Those ideas and concepts will be shared through this platform and website as progress is achieved.

It is very much a goal to take the one to one consultations from a paid service to a free of charge service as we move forward.

One of the most surprising developments, if not the most startling however, has been this blog attached to First Time Inside, this has been so encouragingly well received and having promoted it almost exclusively initially via Twitter the level of awareness and interaction achieved has been for me stunning. Considering it is only in the first stage of development to achieve over 200k Twitter impressions from blog posts in the space of the last two months has been quite humbling. I must thank everyone who has interacted via Twitter in this way as your positivity and encouragement simply add fuel to passion that burns within to make a real difference. To those interacting offline I thank you too.

Considering this level of interaction has been achieved prior to adding planned layers of participation from other contributors it does serve as a positive indicator when deciding where to take it next or indeed, as I must consider from a time spent perspective, if to continue with it at all.

This week designers are working on ideas to revamp the blog element of the First Time Inside website to allow for simpler, instant interaction with various social media platforms and also to create a platform for sponsorship within the blogging platform itself. My own perspective on funding such a project is that the innovation attached to the idea itself should be reflected in the funding strategies themselves if possible. Adding Facebook and other offline initiatives will only serve to increase the exposure and those developments will be mentioned here in the coming days, weeks and should we be blessed with longevity months and years.

Like prison this sector of our little world, I’ve discovered, has a unique penchant for jargon and dare I say verbosity which extends to an almost bespokely developed language to communicate a belonging to or an intellectual understanding of the machinations of the justice network. Thankfully, I’m a quick study and have started developing my own language to augment that which already exists and also to create a slant which allows me to comment without fear of coming over as a hapless newbie or heaven forbid verbose averse. More seriously for example, people talk about the value of lived experience and I talk of a “hybrid perspective”, a recognition that there is a unique value to those have a genuine combination of real life and lived experience. I also think it’s a more positive term which instantly paints a picture beyond the lived experience label.

We look forward to continuing to share our magical journey with all those we meet in the real and in the digital world. In the meantime thank you for paying attention and encouraging First Time Inside to make an impact, we really do appreciate every syllable of positivity.

In closing I have attached a very short excerpt below from a prisoners diary in which he highlights the confusion derived from the use of jargon, seems almost topical given the above, have a great day folks.

“I had the following exchange with a fellow guest here at HMP Hotel & Spa today and it made me laugh as much as it made me confused. Made me laugh because I actually understood it and confused because I actually understood it…can’t do emojis here so not sure drawing a smiley face in a diary is considered good form anyway semi colon, dash and bracket you get the drift. Just realised I’m talking to myself when writing I need to change that soon or they’ll think I’m becoming unhinged if they venture beyond the cover of this nonsense when perusing my suite.

Fellow guest : Jim (name changed to protect the innocent) the passman said you were not eating your duff any chance I could have it, is it in your Peter?

Me : He’s right, I’m not and I’ll get it for you

Translation of question : Jim, one of the wing work detail, mentioned you didn’t want your dessert and if you’re not having it can I, will I find it in your cell?

Fellow guest : Cheers man, if you need a bit of legal or base for after dub up let me know.

Me : Cheers pal but I’m sorted for tonight” 

Translation : If you want some drugs to use after we are locked up for the night let me know / I’m happy to make do with my American cream soda and salt & vinegar chip sticks thanks.

The scary thing is that I actually wondered, for a split second, later if taking something would make the fourteen hour lock up any easier.

I guess it’s never too late in life to learn a new language and my vocabulary has certainly been extended by the inventive terms utilised in here. From skins to canteen, from roach to spin, from digger to subby and that’s only the guests, the staff also have their own jargon from bubble to proform and so much more. Tomorrow the family are coming for a visit and I get to remove the acting cloak and partially relax for an hour. I’ve noticed if I errantly use any of the terminology picked up in here when conversing with them they almost imperceptibly react with a fear that this place is in some way becoming a part of me. In the same I’m sure Arnie doesn’t walk around California screaming I’ll be back I can’t wait to leave this role behind and be home with my family, so many of the guests here don’t have that luxury to look forward to and I treasure my good fortune in every difficult moment.” 

As previously mentioned thank you for taking the time to read these blog posts and as always if you are so moved please do share them on social media or by e mail to your colleagues who avoid this modern world of instant abbreviated conversation. As always any comments are also welcomed via our Contact Form, have a great day @firsttimeinside out.








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