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Clement’s Story

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in Blog, Case Study, News.

18
Aug

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Until relatively recently Clement had been in and out of jail for almost 7 years. Now aged 44 he thought ‘enough is enough’ and when he was released in December he said to himself he would not be going back this time. He says:

“It was so tough on release but I was persistent about getting a job. For me, boredom equals crime so I needed to find a structured routine because I like being active”.

Clement was to referred to Blue Sky via the Work Programme shortly after release from prison. He was interviewed for a recycling position in Kingston and he passed with flying colours. He started work as a Recycling Loader within a Veolia team and has received glowing reports since Day 1. Apparently it is busy and such hard work that he’s so tired by the end of the day that even if he wanted to cause trouble he wouldn’t have the energy to!

_DSC21782To make himself more independent Clement saved part of his wages each week to save up for a car. He says that when he had enough to buy one he felt a real sense of achievement. Blue Sky has recently given Clement a £300 housing loan so that he’s able to go home to some stable and safe housing at the end of the working day.

“This scheme has paid off for me and I hope that by staying out of trouble I can make sure that others can be helped too”.

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Success at the London Triathlon

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in Blog, News, Triathlon.

5
Aug

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Huge congratulations to John, Dave, Steve and Malcolm (along with Steve’s mate and honorary Blue Sky employee Toby) who completed the London Triathlon on Sunday 7 months after Steve signed everyone up saying that “it would be a bit of fun”.

It is fair to say that the office thought that TEAM BLUE SKY were ‘all the gear with no idea’ but they certainly proved us wrong by fitting in lots of training around our busiest recruitment period ever to make sure they were fit and ready for the big day.

On Sunday at 1:40pm they dived into the River Thames outside the ExCeL Centre to complete the 1.5km swim before wriggling out of their wetsuits (that was quite a sight) to get on their bikes for 40km and then finishing with a 10km run. It was extremely hot so they certainly deserved the complimentary beer at the finish line, although there were some groans when they realised it was non-alcoholic!

These crazy triathletes (that’s what they refer to themselves as now!) did all this to raise money for Blue Sky and over the weekend they reached, and then exceeded, the £5,000 target they set themselves which is a great achievement. All money raised will contribute to the costs of helping our ex-offender employees with their resettlement needs and with more than 100 of them on our payroll the donations are more important than ever.

So, a big thank you to TEAM BLUE SKY for all their effort and thank you to everyone who made a donation. Until next year…

Please use the arrows to look through the photos. If you would like to enlarge a particular photo then just click on it below.

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Calling all ex-Blue Sky employees

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in News.

21
Jul

Have you worked for Blue Sky previously?

We want to hear from you. What are you up to at the moment? Please complete the form below to let us know.

 

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Steve telling his story

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in Blog, Case Study, News, Steve's blog.

8
Jul

Steve was recently asked to go on Prison Radio to talk about Blue Sky and explain to the listeners about what it means to him specifically. 84% of England & Wales’ prison population reportedly listen to Prison Radio so this broadcast would have reached a huge number of people. We are pleased that we are also able to share this story with you on here.

Steve

This is a partnership production between the Prison Radio Association and BBC Outreach for National Prison Radio

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Finny’s triathlon blog #2

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in Blog, News, Steve's blog, Triathlon.

3
Jul

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Missed instalment #1? Read it here.

After Thursday’s swim things quietened down a bit as family stuff kicked in at the weekend. Having said that, on Sunday I managed a 5k run in Black Park!

Monday 30th June

Swim night. Feeling tired and am having to drag myself to the Ski Club in Denham. Any thoughts of going the distance were out of the question, my swim tonight is all over the place. I cross lanes colliding into oncoming swimmers on numerous occasions. Everyone was very polite and courteous although I had clearly knocked them out of sync. All except Gary Grumps from Grumpsville in Grumpland who barked “watch where you are going, keep in lane!”  I suppose it is just as well everyone in a swim suit looks the same in the water and you cannot recognise who is who – saves some embarrassment! I will put tonight’s training behind me though and look to Wednesday night – onwards and upwards.

Wednesday 2nd JulySteve Black Park 5km

Malcy, Toby and I are on our bikes riding around Dorney Lake on a wonderful summer evening. I am putting my new bike through its paces and am thinking ‘Finny at last has bought something that actually works’!

We do 20k, park up our bikes and with frozen and aching buttocks head straight off for a 5k run. About 0.02k in Malcy and I stop jogging due to our legs seizing up so it was stop / start for the rest of the 5k. This Brick training is quite hard but it must be a priority if we are to compete this Triathlon. With the swimming almost licked it is going to be a case of biking and running for the foreseeable future that will be the main focus of our training.

Am going to give tonight’s swim a miss as I have niggled a shoulder muscle. Not getting any younger you know!

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Finny’s triathlon blog

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in Blog, News, Steve's blog, Triathlon.

23
Jun

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Steve Finn  is representing Team Blue Sky at the London Virgin Active Triathlon in August, along with Malcolm Reilly, John Leach and Dave Golding. Here Steve blogs about his training schedule…

Thursday 5th June

Malcolm and I set off to get fitted up for our Tri Wet Suits.

We go to Bourne End and meet Alan who kits me out. I take my suit into the fitting room and with much ado I finally get this thing on. I walk out of the cubicle to get zipped up to the laughs of Malcolm and  the staff in the shop (memo to MM, sack Malcolm for being disloyal and making fun of me!!)

Malcy gets a let off as the shop did not have his size. Getting the suit off was just as difficult! What am I letting myself in for?

Monday 9th June

Dave,  Malcolm and I set off with Toby Malowen who is competing with us as an independent to meet Jo Lewis for an outdoor swimming lesson at  Denham Ski Club.

So here we are on the quay ready to have our first taste of outdoor swim. I look around for someone with a bucket of fish as we look like the seals from Whipsnade.

We submerge ourselves into the murky water, this is a different ball game altogether from the pool swim…

Thursday 12h June

Toby and I return to the Ski Club to have a swim. 200m in and I begin to struggle with my breathing and have a bit of a panic attack. Toby helps me get it together again and off we set. I get to 500 meters then an awful cramp set in to my calf. I manage to cut across lanes to the quay.

I have been doing the pool swim and getting up to certain distances but this outdoor swimming is serious business. Time to rethink my game plan. I meet Jo on the quay and tell her about my swim. Jo suggest drinking carbonated water during the day up to my swim in the future to help with cramp.

Monday 16th June

I have been drinking my carbonated water and focusing on my swim all day. I leave the house grabbing a full 2 ltr bottle of carbonated water. I get to the Ski Club, park up and think, I will have one quick swig of water. As soon as I twist the cap the water explodes covering the interior of the wife’s car.

If carbonated water were red the inside of the car would have looked like a scene from Pulp Fiction. Anyway, into the water we go and a much better swim tonight. I get to 600 mtrs and call it a night.

Wednesday 18th June

Morning swim for 7am. Cold!! It is amazing how the cold can affect a swim but hey the swimsuit seemed to fit better! 650 mtrs later and am now much more confident in the water. Back in the water for Monday as plan to watch the England game Thursday night.

Thursday 19th June.

Get a Tetanus jab. Good advice from Helen Coppock.

Saturday 21st June

Wake up bright and early for an early morning bike ride. I have my new I phone with me and I download the Strava App which logs my mileage, time etc. 0730 I set off with no real plan other than to skirt around Black Park until 0845 where I plan to meet my mate Dean to compete in the 5k Black Park Run which is run every Saturday. 0945. 17.5k later I meet Dean and we set off at a good pace as the whistle blows to start the run at 9am. Around 500 runners jostle for room and like seasoned race horses Dean and I move slowly up the order. The run is for all ages and I pass a lady in clearly in her sixties running along without bending her legs Ostrich like. 2.5k in my legs start to feel heavy and with my breathing laboured I tell Dean to crack on and I will see him at the finish. 3k in and with the heat bearing down I keep going and by the time I get to 4k all the runners I had passed previously are now passing me.

5k in overtaken by Ostrich Lady. Well done her much Kudos from me!.

Finish the run in 30 minutes at least I did not give up.

 23rd June Monday

Night Swim Denham Ski Club – My aim tonight is to push myself to a further 50 meters. Toby and I set off nice and calmly on this lovely summers evening. Toby as usual is around 20 meters ahead by the time we are 100 m into our swim. Now normally Toby would wait for me  meet at the 250 mark under a willow tree for a breather and a cheeky fag! I spot Toby and think to myself, no I am going to carry on as my breathing is controlled and my energy levels are good. My aim now is to reach the pink buoy which is around  the 800m mark. I pass the pink buoy and still feeling and breathing good I carry on and hey presto 1 kilometre later I am back on the quay. What an achievement I felt. Well pleased with myself!!

 24th June

5.30am in the Finn household. Scream from the Bathroom, memo to ones self not to hang wetsuit on shower head in the shower cubicle which face our toilet. Mrs Finn not impressed!

 25th June

Drop the lad off to Goalkeeper training and head off on the bike through Langley Park. Not enjoyable due to many gates so a lot of stopping and starting also dogs! Plenty of Dogs. Chased twice and held up numerous times by hoards of dog walkers in groups of three and fours. Am now becoming a grumpy cyclist. Completed 12k. Swimming tomorrow.

26th June.

At last I have sourced a decent road bike. Bought it second hand off a mush from Shepherds Bush. Got him down to £90 from a £100. Expensive Business this Triathlon Looks like the kids are on Haribos and dry bread again this weekend.

On a drizzly warm evening at the lake I swam another Kilometre just  to make sure Monday night was not a fluke. This time I timed myself, 35 minutes so am happy with my progress. Cannot wait to test the bike out this Weekend. Guess I need a helmet now!

 

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Carwyn’s blog – Hearts from offcuts

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in Blog, Blue Sky Inside, Carwyn's blog, News.

16
Jun

I return to HMP & YOI Bronzefield, a women’s high-security prison in Surrey, to catch up with ‘Stitch in Time’, Blue Sky Inside’s textiles workshop that produces fashion items and luxury goods for leading brands together with haute couture garments for fashion shows.

It’s a pleasure to be back having first visited the workshop earlier in the year. I acknowledge some familiar faces. Since I was last here, Sam has been promoted to be the new workshop supervisor. She greets me in textbook front-of-house fashion with a smiley welcome and the offer of a drink and a biscuit. Taking over from her predecessor Theresa (see Of angels and pins) Sam has big shoes to fill but she seems at ease in her new role.

I meet some of the more recent starters. Everyone I talk to enthuses about ‘Stitch in Time’ – “best job in prison” they say. Most enthusiastic of all, perhaps, is Elaine. Like many at the workshop, Elaine loves the quiet discipline that the work requires and the sense of pride and achievement that producing something of value brings. She loves the calm within the workshop, that everyone gets on with things and, most importantly, that everyone behaves with dignity and respect. (“Craftsmen make good citizens” says Plato in ‘The Republic’.)

So thrilled is Elaine with her work and with what she’s learnt to do that she’s asked to have offcuts from production to practice on in her cell. She shows me what she’s made from end-pieces of the material used to produce Anya Hindmarch dust-bags… a cushion in the shape of a heart. It doesn’t stop there. Elaine has transformed a grey regulation prison T-shirt into a stylish skirt. She stands up and gives a gleeful twirl. Elaine says she looks forward when she leaves prison to making loads of stuff from odds and ends, she’ll save money that way she says.

Through her extra-curricular activities, Elaine creates beauty and utility from frayed-ends of fabric. She sees value and potential in what others have discarded. The same can be said of ‘Stitch in Time’.

All names of prisoners have been changed

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