#prison blog Log 2: Forming the research TEAM- System Busters Unite!

January 11, 2017

I woke up today and was greeted with two foot of snow.  Something quite novel for a Brit!  I am not the most co-ordinated of people and have a weak right side that causes me to limp and stumble a bit.  Even the ground holds uncertainty today! 


My objective today is to train the three inmates as co-researcher.  The three inmates have all agreed to take part and I am pleased that all of them are on board, including Daniel.  Elin organised for all of the researchers to meet me in my new office and asked the researchers to request permission to attend, outside of their work commitments, to be involved in the project.  It would have been easy for her or the Governor to contact the work supervisors directly but Elin explained that it was important for the researchers to take responsibility for it.  It was a strength I admired in her; she always thought of opportunities for inmates to take responsibility.


I had a morning training session with the researchers today and Harald brought us all donuts from the kitchen to eat, as this was the desert of the day for the inmates.  I was surprised by the thoughtful gesture and struck by the fact that Harald was giving me something, despite the fact that I had nothing to give in return.  He gave up his time away from his work in the kitchen, seemed really positive about the project and showed me unquestionable support.  Initially, I was so nervous I couldn’t stomach the donuts, but by the fourth offer I accepted, recognising that Harald just enjoyed feeding people.  Working in the kitchen seemed to suit his nurturing side, which I sensed immediately, when we first met.


Both Harald and Jon helped Daniel by translating my English into Norwegian and it was good to see Daniel looking happier as the day went on.  They gave me insight into some of the problems relating to the project.  Inmates were anxious about having cameras on the island and Daniel honestly said that the information leaflet I had pre-prepared was too complicated.  We agreed that I would talk to the inmates and ask the governor to discuss the project during the next meal time.   These insights were so valuable to me and without them, the project may not have got off the ground. 


I talked through the project, discussed how to carry out the photo interviews and collect statements for each photo, to outline the reasons why their image was so significant.  I explained they would be responsible for their own cameras and recruiting their own participants (or “customers” as Daniel called them).  The researchers seemed excited about having the cameras and capturing the island. 


It ended with a discussion about why projects like this are important and Daniel said “you know you are fighting a losing battle here”.  I said that maybe I was, but we had to try.  I sensed that he and the others agreed. I felt we shared the same goal in making ‘the system’ better and this connected us in some small way.   We created the research team on this connection I think.  I felt grateful for all the knowledge and experience of the researchers and was comforted that I was not alone.  It was a very different feeling to any other research project I have done before.  I needed them a lot more than they needed me.  With Elin on board too, I was grateful for the team that had formed over this short period of time. The System Busters had united! 


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