Enabling ordinary people to do extraordinary things… Tony’s story

Tony Leather outside Salford’s Windsor Drop in Centre, where he attends the “Positive Changes” school of participation. Photograph: Helen Clifton

Tony Leather outside Salford’s Windsor Drop in Centre, where he attends the “Positive Changes” school of participation. Photograph: Helen Clifton

Positive Changes is our latest ‘School of Participation’ with a group of seven men in Salford, all of whom have been in prison. Over the past six weeks, the group have been on a 12-week ‘school of participation’ course to help them re-enter work and education.

Tony Leather, 37, has spent four and half years in prison for offences including assault, robberies, and car theft.  He says it is unlike any other school he has been to.

“At school you get told what you’re doing, and when you’re doing it; here you get asked what you want to do and how you want to do it.  And because you choose, you actually put more effort into it. “It’s our knowledge; the knowledge of people who have been in the situation we’ve been in.”

The course, run by our Community Pride Unit was created by Weaste activist Sarah Whitehead – herself a school of participation graduate – after she realised that the 2011 riots were, in part, an expression of voicelessness.

“They haven’t got someone talking down to them who they don’t relate to,” she says. “They’ve got the freedom to learn what they want to learn. And I think that’s why they keep coming back. Because it’s what they want to do.”

Read a fuller report on Positive Changes and the radical approach to adult education which underlies it here.

If you want to enable more ordinary people like Tony to do extraordinary things you can give on-line here.

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