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The Self-Tapping Screw: Recollections of a Borstal Officer, Simon Barlow, 22 May 2013 at 6pm, Tunbridge Wells Council Chamber, Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS

SelfTappingScrewOn the evening Wednesday 22nd May, the Whole Person Recovery Programme will be hosting an event as part of our on-going Public Events Programme. The Public Events Programme is held in various venues across West Kent as a way of engaging and educating the wider community members in our work and the debates surrounding addiction, recovery, community development, etc.  On the 22nd we will welcome Simon Barlow to Tunbridge-Wells to discuss his new book. Simon is a colleague from CRI, one of our partner organisations on this project.

Like many of those we work with in West Kent, Simon has had an interesting and varied career. Before moving to Tonbridge and working for CRI Simon gave up his job working at a shoe shop and enrolled on a training programme to become a prison officer. From 1980 to 2005 Simon worked in a variety of adult prisons but started out as an officer for the now much maligned borstals, probably most famously depicted in the Alan Clarke film Scum. Simon argues that, for all their faults, the borstals did help to transform many boys’ lives. Viewed from the inside, Barlow champions the system of education, training and structure for the borstal boys and compares it to what he deems an inadequate replacement.

‘The borstals, though not perfect, had transformed many boys’ lives. Lads would come to us, never knowing any structure in their lives and never having experienced discipline of any sort, and the experience would change them. I remember several examples of boys having to be physically removed from the institution on the day of their release, as they did not want to return to the chaos that was their lives.’

Join us to hear Simon recount his tales of borstal life and have a chance to engage with the issues raised in a discussion after the talk. The event is free and refreshments will be provided but please book in advance here.


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