“Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides,
just like hopes springing high,
Still I rise.”
— Maya Angelou


The first woman Essence worked with completed a one-to-one MyLife, Managing Emotions, course with us in prison. She left school at age 10, had no qualifications and was unable to read and write before coming to prison. This young lady became the first prisoner in the country to receive an OCR accreditation for the course and she completed it to such a high standard that her work is now being used as an example of good practice for others to aim for.

This was a massive achievement for her. She was so proud of herself when we delivered the OCR certificate to her that she began dancing round her room!

Since completing the Managing Emotions course this young lady worked really hard on her behaviour. She secured a job in the gardens, which was only given to very trusted prisoners, and she went on to complete more courses from the MyLife series so she could continue to develop in her character and skills. 



Mava had been in prison for a number of years, and had always refused to engage in any courses that addressed her behaviour. Through outreach and contact we had with her through chaplaincy, Mava trusted us enough to request to do the Managing Emotions myLife course.

Mava engaged brilliantly with the course and we saw her change significantly in her behaviour and attitude. Off the back of our work with her we have been able to signpost her to other services that will continue to help her address her offending behaviour which she is now more open to engage with.  



Diana is a young lady who came to prison at a young age, having experienced extreme chaos and suffering throughout her life.
Diana got referred to us to do the Managing Emotions course by her probation officer. Diana had been in prison for a while when we got the referral, but hadn't yet engaged in much one-to-one work so we weren't sure if she'd be that keen to engage. But she did and agreed to do the course.

Diana engaged really well every single session we had, she was open and honest and began to process experiences she had been through, think about the way she was reacting to different people and situations, as well as the way she perceives herself. 
Diana is an amazing young lady with a great deal to offer, she engaged so well in the course that we were able to give her a glowing report at the end of it - one of the first she’d ever got. After I gave her the report, she was so thrilled with how well she'd done that her probation officer said she'd stopped her on the wing and made her read it in front of her because she was so proud of herself.



Theo has been involved in gangs and violence for a long time. She has real trouble controlling her anger and was finding it difficult to engage with provisions in the prison. Theo joined one of our Money, Money, Money groups and found herself enjoying it. She would often comment how she normally wouldn't stay in the room for group sessions but that she could with this.

Theo set herself a target as part of that group to be able to control her reactions better when she is angry. She made great progress towards this target and was being much less aggressive in her reactions towards staff and other prisoners.

Since finishing that course, Theo has started a one-to-one course with us, which she would never have dreamed of doing before. In the time since we met Theo she has even begun to engage in therapy which is a massive step for her!

Theo is determined to change her life; however it is not going to be an easy road for her. Deciding to make changes is just the beginning. But the change we have already seen in her is a great start and we will be doing what we can to support her as she continues on her journey.



Lucy is a young lady we've had the pleasure of working with for the last year and a half. When we first met Lucy she had a lot of barriers up and so was initially quite cold towards us as tutors. However, since we first met Lucy, she has done a number of one-to-one courses with us in the areas of Managing Emotions, Communicating Differently and she engaged in one of our group money courses and engages brilliantly with our team.

Lucy excelled in every course and eventually went on to become our Learning Assistant for the money group courses. Through this role, Lucy has proved herself to have a real gift at supporting people and communicating in a classroom context.

Lucy is determined to turn her life around and we are in the process of exploring opportunities we can offer her in the community upon her release to help her continue in her journey of change. 



When she first arrived in prison, Holly was notorious for starting fights with other prisoners and causing trouble for officers. She spent a lot of her life in segregation and would not engage in any prison activities. 

After a friend recommended the myLife courses to her Holly decided it was time for a change. During the Managing Emotions course her confidence grew and she realised she no longer wanted to fight and definitely didn’t want to come back to prison. We worked on ways to deal with her anger, what she was triggered by and how she could resolve it and look at better ways of communication. Holly’s attitude was visibly changed and both peers and officers commented on the change. Holly left prison last year and now is holding two part time jobs.



One of the highlights of Through-the-Gate work is that you get to see how the work we did with the women in prison is impacting their approach to life on the outside.

One young lady told us of how she was telling her probation officer how much the myLife courses have helped deal with knock backs in her life now. She gave the example of how she failed a food & hygiene assessment recently, but rather than give up as she would have done before, her immediate response was "When can I take it again?"

She said this new attitude was down to the courses she did with us, as they helped her understand that you are always going to make mistakes in life but that the most important thing is to never give up but to keep on trying and you'll get there in the end.