Extending Hands

Text:  Lisa Butler


Dear Bruce


I’m so sorry that I have not been in touch sooner but it has been an incredibly busy time for us on the Oasis Unit.


I want to thank you and your team again for what proved to be a very special day for both the boys and the staff on the Unit last month.


As you are aware, the boys are all on the Unit voluntarily because they are motivated to addressing their substance misuse problems and related offending behaviour.  For the majority of them this is the first time in months, sometimes in years, that they have been completely drug-free.  Without mind-altering substances they often feel inhibited, vulnerable and of low self-esteem.


The boys and staff were immediately impressed by the ease at which you literally extended your hands and introduced yourselves to them.  This simple act broke down barriers straight away and was mentioned by all the boys as a significantly positive thing.


The inhibitions that we work with daily with this client group disappeared quickly and we put this down to the enthusiasm, warmth and encouragement that was shown by your team.  This motivated them to want to participate more and push and explore themselves further than they had done before.


None of this group had finished secondary education and knew little about Shakespeare.  The enthusiasm and skill of your team in showing that Shakespeare is for everybody has resulted in an increased confidence in reading and comprehension and some of the boys penned amazing Witslings.  The piece that Avis had written moved me and other staff members to tears when we read it.


The response from the Unit as a whole was so strong and so positive it cannot be underestimated how important your work is to this client group, many of whom have been excluded by stigma for most of their lives.


The immediate effects of your visit were increased self-esteem, increased peer support and a lowering of inhibitions.


We look forward to further visits from you as everyone on the Unit still talks about the last one!


I enclose letters from two of the boys and the press cutting from the local newspaper.


Once again thank you so very much Bruce and please convey our thoughts to your dedicated team.




Lisa J. Butler (Registered Nurse)
Oasis Unit Manager
HMP Rochester