It’s been a few months since I became a Brand Manager for Unlocked Graduates, and it has been the most distinctive experience I have had so far at university. The training started in the Unlocked office in Central London, where I had the opportunity to meet the CEO of Unlocked, the previous Brand Manager from Queen Mary, and the newly-appointed Brand Managers from all over the UK. It was such an enlightening experience to listen to their views on Unlocked, how they came across it and what they thought about the future of the programme. Even though we were all from very different backgrounds (I study Biomedical Sciences, but there were students of other fields such as Politics, English and Geography) we were all interested in reform to the justice system.
As well as this training, we also went to visit HMP Wandsworth, a prison in South London. This was for sure one of the best parts of the training, and I consider it particularly important too, as we need to communicate to potential candidates what a prison environment is really like, as well as the facts about the prison system. I felt a lot of different emotions stepping inside an actual prison for the first time.
Many of the prisoners have been in care or visit psychiatrists in prison because they have had hard lives, and not the many opportunities that people like me or you might have had. Living in a small cell away from the people you love is a really tough punishment, and one of your key relationships is therefore with the prison officers. You as a prison officer become a leader, mentor and supporter of the prisoners. Prisoners were really polite indeed, they would salute us as we passed by or they would give way and call me “Lady” or “Miss”. It wasn’t at all as scary or hostile as I thought it could be.
When I left the prison, I left with a strong feeling of commitment. I had visited what is the only world for many people during months or even several years of their lives, and this made me want to impact their lives too. The least we can do now is try to eradicate all the stigma and myths around both prisoners and prison officers. I have already started contributing in a small way, particularly in the last Jobs Market we had at Queen Mary, back in October, when I had the opportunity to talk to many students about Unlocked and our mission.
Applications closed on the 24th for our programme starting this summer, but Unlocked offers many opportunities such as internships and other roles for undergraduates!
You can read more about Unlocked in www.unlockedgrads.co.uk