South West Wales

Poetry and tai chi to boost Swansea prisoners' health

Swansea prison

Poetry and tai chi are among the alternatives to medication being offered to prisoners in Swansea.

Sessions ranging from art therapy, sport and gardening will be provided to 20 men at the prison.

Until now, prisons have opted for more traditional care services to meet the physical and mental needs of inmates.

The first course will start this month, and could be followed be a larger project aimed at improving health and wellbeing, and reducing reoffending.

Social prescribing - referring people to a range of local, non-clinical services - is already available to patients registered with a cluster of GP surgeries in Swansea.

Voluntary and community groups will deliver sessions.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, which provides primary care services within the prison, has worked with Swansea Council for Voluntary Service and Swansea Prison to develop the pilot programme.

What will the sessions involve?

  • An arts therapy workshop
  • Emotional support and resilience, encouraging the men to support each other inside and outside the sessions
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, helping the group take care of their wellbeing - such as making good food and exercise choices, managing chronic pain, reducing stress, and being kinder to themselves and others
  • Physical activity - eight sessions of Tai Chi Movement for Wellbeing sessions
  • Improved life skills - practical skills and knowledge around healthy eating, the nutritional value of food and ways to increase physical activity

Mathew Taylor, head of reducing reoffending at Swansea prison said: "These programmes will hopefully assist our men to make better, more informed and calculated choices about their future behaviours.

"This will then hopefully help them to develop vital life skills for their future, contributing to a reduction in reoffending."

"It is hoped that it will be the start of a larger project, including preventative work around domestic violence, relationships, harmful behaviours and more."

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