Job Opportunity – Director

The Prison Phoenix Trust is seeking
A Full-time Director

The Prison Phoenix Trust is a well-established national charity based in Oxford, supporting prisoners and prison staff through the disciplines of meditation and yoga.

We are seeking applicants for the post of full-time Director.

Candidates should have a mature experience of meditation and (ideally) yoga, excellent people management skills, good communication skills, grant writing ability and relevant IT abilities.

The Trust seeks diversity and welcomes applicants from all backgrounds.

Salary range: £40,000 – £45,000.

Please send your application letter, including reasons why you are suitable for the post, plus your CV to:

Closing date for applications: Thursday, 20th August, 2020

Interviews: Tuesday, 1st September, 2020

Job Description

Spirituality Statement

Autumn Meditation Day for Yoga Teachers and Letter Writers

Saturday 17th October, 10 am – 4.00 pm, on-line, £10

Our annual retreat was scheduled for 16th – 18th October as a physical gathering, but the retreat venue has closed for 2020, and there are challenges in booking another, and uncertainty about whether we’d be able to gather in person. Instead we are holding this event online.

This day, held mostly in silence, offers a chance to deepen your own meditation practice so you feel more confident in offering it as part of your teaching. A talk on the practice, a chance to meet one-on-one with the facilitators and an asana practice before lunch will provide the support you need. Your home needn’t be totally silent like a retreat centre on the day. We’d rather you welcome the realities of what’s happening domestically and weave them into the practice, rather than seeing them as obstacles. We hope you can join us. Teachers working in prison until recently, or those offering cover or about to start will be given priority

Please email Laura to find out more.

Free Yoga and Meditation Handouts for Prisoners

We have a range of yoga and meditation handouts available to help prisoners cope with the increased hours they are having to spend in their cells. These include how to set up a meditation practice, yoga routines to help with worry and insomnia, and soothing breathing practices.

Please feel free to print these out and distribute them to those you’re in contact with in any secure setting. If you have any feedback or requests for other types of content from us, please let us know.

Yoga Handouts for Prisoners

Please phone us for the password on 01865 512 521.

Phone the same number to discuss bulk ordering yoga and meditation books and CDs for your institution.

Events Update

In light of national and global events we have made these changes to our events –

Race and Prison – one-day training for prison yoga teachers – Sunday 29.3.20

This will no longer be a physical meeting, but will be an on-line gathering on the same day.

Coretta Philipps, the main speaker, and former prisoner Mike will offer their presentations by remote video (Coretta: Race in Prison; Mike: how one man survived prison with help from his yoga teacher and is now thriving). There will be discussion in small groups, time for questions and answers, and a chance to return to the heart of our work as we practise together too.

We in the office are disappointed not to be seeing you in person. And we know how valuable it is for you to meet up with each other. But we think this is a good compromise. It’s important that all of us, in all walks of life, stay in touch during these challenging times, and keep nourished and learning and sharing our support with each other. We hope you can join us.

The timing is likely to be 10.00 – 12.30. Exact details will be confirmed once we have finalised things.  We’ll be in touch again with joining instructions, by the end of the day on 23rd March at the latest.

Teaching Yoga in Prison – five-day residential training course (22nd – 26th June 2020)

This has been postponed until June 21st – 25th, 2021. All teachers accepted on the course will have any fees paid so far refunded, and are automatically accepted for the course next year, should they wish to attend. We will be in touch with participants and process refunds soon.

Stay in Touch! 

Our office will stay open (with most staff working from home for the immediate future) and we will keep sending our book packs and writing letters to prisoners, who may need friendship and practices to develop their inner resources, now more than ever. Please do give us a ring or drop us an email if you have any questions.

An Introduction to Teaching Yoga in Prison

Sunday 15th November, 2020, Wytham Village Hall, Oxford – £35

Is it possible to give unconditional support, affirmation and encouragement through yoga and meditation in a highly regulated, stressful setting like prison? Come find out more on this day, when we will explore the challenges and rich rewards of sharing yoga and meditation with prisoners, ex-prisoners and staff. Open to teachers interested in finding out more.

This event will happen if COVID-19 conditions change to a degree where we can gather safely. We will postpone nearer the time, or hold it on-line if there is even a small health risk.

To find our more please email us or get in touch with Sally, Selina or Victoria on 01865 512521

2019 Christmas Cards On Sale

This year’s cards come in packs of 5 each of 2 designs, both drawn by a friend at HMP Grendon.

One card is a snowman yogi, the other is a winter woodland scene. The inside is blank for your message. The cards measure 144 x 103 mm.

Each pack, including postage, is £5.

Please email to place an order.

snowman doing yoga christmas card

Teaching Yoga In Prison – 5 Day Residential Course

This event has been postponed until June 21st – 25th, 2021. All teachers accepted on the course will have any fees paid so far refunded, and are automatically accepted for the course next year, should they wish to attend. We will be in touch with participants and process refunds soon.

22nd – 26th June, 2020, Carmelite Retreat Centre, Boars Hill, Oxford – £495

This 5-day residential course, designed and run by the Prison Phoenix Trust (and accredited as a British Wheel of Yoga module) is open to all teachers, and equips you with the knowledge and confidence to teach in prison. The Carmelite Retreat Centre is on the quiet grounds of a priory, with views overlooking Oxford. We will explore in depth the issues, challenges and rewards of working behind bars. Content includes: security, professional boundaries, teachers as role models, young offenders, female prisoners, sex offenders, drugs and alcohol, the life and work of prison officers, applying for prison teaching. Daily meditation and yoga practice are integral to the course. For accreditation, teachers must later observe a prison class and be assessed teaching in prison. Cost includes room, board and BWY admin fee.

Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll put you on our list to receive an application form when the process starts in September. The closing date for applications is 21st February 2020.

To find our more please email us or get in touch with Sally, Selina or Victoria on 01865 512521

Yoga Practice Reduces the Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates

A new Swedish study has shown that a 10-week yoga course can lead to a reduction of levels of psychological distress in prisoners, which can in turn make them less likely to reoffend. The study also links regular yoga practice to reduction in obsessive-compulsive and paranoid thinking, as well as a reduction in “somatisation” (mental distress leading to physical symptoms).

You can read the full study here and find more studies on yoga and meditation in prison on our evidence page.

Yoga Mats Now Allowed in Cells

Often prisoners want a mat of their own so they can practise in their cells. For many years, people imprisoned in England & Wales couldn’t keep yoga mats in their cells (though all prisons don’t always follow all regulations so some prisoners did have mats). But it is now permissible for prisoners to keep yoga mats in their cells. A prisoner at HMP Frankland made a complaint to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman about needing a mat in his cell for health and safety reasons. The Ombudsman contacted The Prison Phoenix Trust, who presented a range of arguments that the Ombudsman could use in lobbying for this change. As a result Prison Service Instruction (PSI) 30/2013 was updated.
On page 2 of the 70 page document you will find: “Yoga mats have been added to the standardised facilities list…”, meaning the list of things that prisoners are allowed to have. They can usually order things from the facilities list from approved suppliers, like Argos. So if your prisoner students ask if they can have yoga mats, you can let them know the prison service instruction number. If you search and find PSI 30/2013 on-line, the section about the yoga mats is on the second page.

Summer Newsletter Now Out

Our summer newsletter is now available to read online here. In this issue we  feature two practical yoga and breathing routines as well as many letters from prisoners, telling of how yoga and meditation have been helping them behind bars. We have an article on the importance of taking the time to lament when we are met with national tragedy – an article sadly very relevant at the moment.

View the newsletter online here!

If you’d like to subscribe to our online newsletter, please fill in this form. If you prefer a paper copy, then drop us a line and we’ll add you to the mailing list.