The provided, according to the project monitoring plan includes three stages and this present initial report introduces initial analysis about the mindsets and expectation of the target group (the imprisoned at the Sofia Central Prison with a remainder of serving time up to a year, who have families) in regard to the goals and activities of the project “The way of the new beginning”.
The main goal of the project is to increase the focus of attention of society, media and responsible political institutions towards the vulnerable groups in prisons. The reason to reinforce the attention towards them is their difficult re-socialisation, conditioned by the additional factors like: cultural clash, language barrier and obscure legal status. The specific goal of the project is the development of specialised programs for reform of the character of the people in target group by workshop activities in the area of:
- management of personal finances
- building up of leadership skills
- personal social-psychological meetings
- meetings of the families at the holidays
The initial report also registers the needs and desires of the target group, described in four, out of the 13 questions of the entry questionnare.
For the purpose of the monitoring analysis are used two methods: questionnare (quantity method) and focus groups (quality method).
The total number of imprisoned in Bulgaria is nearly 10,000 people. An inquiry of the Head Administration “Serving of Punishment” shows that in the Bulgarian prisons there are 230 outlanders from 44 countries. The greatest number is the citizens from the Republic of Turkey. The next group in number are citizens from the countries producing refugees (Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, Algerians and Iranians). However, there is no official statistics available for the ethnical origin of the imprisoned, which is a serious disadvantage in order to create a long term policy in relation to re-socialization of the imprisoned. One of the reasons for the lack of an official statistics is the in the form, which they fill out at the getting in prison most Roma people write down they are Bulgarians, and others identify themselves as ethnical Turks. According to the researcher from the Bulgarian Helsinki’s Committee Stanimir Petrov (quoted by “24 hours” news paper, dated Feb. 7th, 2015) the approximate number of Roma people in prison is nearly 6,500.
The project includes three questionnaires – entry, midterm and final. The entry questionare, explained and analyzed here, has the purpose to identify the mindsets and expectations of the sentenced people in relation to the project “The way of the new beginning”. For that reason where included the greatest possible number of prisoners (regardless of their family status or ethnical, or national belonging), to whom we gained access. The questionnaire includes 13 questions, where 5 of them are with a closed answer and 8 – with open answers. It has been given to the prisoners on paper. The total number of completed and valid questionnares is 71. The average age of the people involved is 35. Two people haven’t mentioned their age. In relation to the ethnical belonging – only four of them have identified themselves as Roma, which affirms the above tendency of the imprisoned. One has noted as being Italian and the others (66) are Bulgarians. The greatest number is for the ones who graduated high school (33), next are the ones with mid-school (24). 7 identified themselves as university grads, 6 with elementary and 1 without any education.
The data confirms the fact that the majority of the imprisoned are with a low level of education and qualification. It is easy to distinguish the connection between low level of education and the tendency toward criminal actions, even though this kind of relation is not necessarily causality. The increase of qualification in different professional areas (management of personal finances, training for entrepreneurship, building up of leadership skills, etc.) would assist the re-orientation in behaviour of such socially vulnerable group. This is also the specific aim of the project “The way of the new beginning”.
ANALYSIS OF THE QUESTIONNARES ACCORDING TO THE FAMILY STATUS
Given are five types of answers: (1) married, (2) singles, (3) living as family partners, (4) divorced, and (5) widower. One of the surveyed people, to the question for marital status answered “not valid” (under № 15 in the chart). For the needs of the monitoring analysis, three groups are taken under consideration: married men, singles and divorced. Excluded are the “not valid” and widower, because they are statistically insignificant answers.
Out of 71 questionnaires that have been filled, 20 people answered they are “married” or live as “family partners”, which is 28% out of all participants in the survey. Out of the, according to the answers in the questionnaire:
- Average age (column 2 from the chart): 38 years
- Origin (column 4 of the chart):two people have identified themselves as Roma, the other (18) are Bulgarians
- Education (column 5 from the chart): two people are with university education, 9 have high school level, 5 – middle school, 3 – elementary and 1 is without education at all.
- Desire for training (columns 6 and 7 of the chart): The majority of the group of the married men and these living as family partners reply affirmative to the question “Do you like the opportunity to get new knowledge and skills?” Only one responded negative. However, at the same time he has express willingness to be involved in the project “The way of the new beginning”. 19 out of 20 from this target group have expressed willingness to be involved in the project of Mission Salvation Foundation. Interesting are the motives because of which they would get involved in the project. The majority have stated that the participation would give them a chance to learn something new; to acquire new skills. One of the representatives of this target group, perceives the participation in the project as a “challenge”, another is led by “curiosity”, and another “to do something useful and smart”. Only one is not showing interest toward the project and his motive is: “I have taught the described bellow activities”. The results from the survey raise hopes that this main target group in the project is accessible.
- Question 7 (column 8 from the chart): is related to the specific interest of the surveyed toward the activities part of the project “The way of the new beginning”. They are:
- a) Arts workshops /music, dancing, painting /
- b) Training seminar for entrepreneurship
- c) Seminar for leadership skills
- d) Seminar for management of personal finances
- e) Personal social-psychological meetings
- f) Family gathering for holidays
The group of the married ones is showing greatest interest for the seminars for entrepreneurship and leadership skills. Each one of them is preferred by 10 people. Following are Seminar for management of personal finances“(9 people), “Family gathering for holidays“(8 people) and “Personal social-psychological meetings“(7 people). The least interested (4) are for the activities in the area of arts. It is obvious the specific interest toward the acquiring of particular practical skills. This could be due to the sense of responsibility of these men as husbands and parents and their desire for a greater financial stability, probably. The expressed preferences of this main target group show that the provided activities in the project are able to foretaste the needs.
- Participation in other projects (column 9 of the chart): 16 out of 20 people have so far participated in other projects, conducted in the premises of the Sofia Central Prison. The main courses mentioned are: health courses, courses for control and prevention of HIV/AIDS, course for mediators yoga, entrepreneurship, Project “Prison Pilgrims”, language classes /English, Italian/, “Alpha course”, computer classes, etc. And here we can again conclude that the group of the married are showing interest toward acquiring new knowledge in different areas.
Interesting are also the positive expectations from the project which a few of the surveyed from this group have pointed out. By choosing them they demonstrate willingness to change and take the new road: “to learn something new that is going to be useful for me after I get out of prison”; to learn something that is going to be useful in my future life and which I will be able to use for my development after I get out of prison”; “to integrate back in society, since I have 3 children and I hope to learn something that I can pass it on to them”.
Another of the surveyed individuals expresses confidence that he will do very well and he is willing to communicate with people who are outside of prison. There are also great expectations toward the seminar for entrepreneurship, in particular. The predominant part of the surveyed hasn’t pointed out any other of their specific needs and desires which they would like to fulfil through the project. These who have done that have used phrases like “to learn more”, “self-perfection”, “I’ve got a great desire for education in whatever form”. Eighteen out of the twenty surveyed express desire to get to know with the thorough activity of the Mission Salvation Foundation and with its volunteer activities in particular. We believe that we are going to be able to meet the expectations of the imprisoned for successful re-integration in society. The grounds for our belief is the fact that the team, engaged in performing the activities from the project consist completely out of professionals in the specific areas and at the same time is emotionally engaged and empathetic to the target group.
The group of the singles is the largest in number (43 out of 71 total), which is nearly 61% of all surveyed inmates. In this group, according to the answers to the questions:
- Average age (column 2 of the cart): 34 year and one hasn’t indicated his age
- Origin (column 4 of the chart): two have identified themselves as Roma, one – Italian and the rest (40) Bulgarians.
- Education (column 5 of the chart): In regards to the lever of education most of them are with high school or special high school education (22), than those with mid school (14), university (4) and elementary (3).
- Willingness for training (columns 6 and 7 of the chart): 42 out of 43 state that they like the opportunity for acquiring of new knowledge and skills. 38 express their readiness to participate in the project “The way of the new beginning”. Two – don’t want, three don’t know or they are not aware of the project. Nevertheless, they have pointed out some specific activities in which they would take part. Besides the most often used motivation: “to learn something new and useful”, striking are the following statements: “I’d participate because I need a new beginning, whatever that might be, if only I could forget the past”; “to change myself”; “I’d participate in the new way because the one I had so far I don’t like”; “to find out what is the way”; “I’d participate in order to expend my knowledge, to be prepared when I’ve served my time”; “because it is good for my character transformation and building up as a human”; “because it is a new beginning”; “I’d participate because I am interested in music and it would be a pleasure to be part of “The way of the new beginning” project; “because I want to start a new beginning”. A leading motivation for some is the opportunity for self-perfecting and mastering of “something useful for me”, as well as curiosity. One of the inmates sees a possibility through the participation in the project to enrich his knowledge and “to get relaxation of his sentence, eventually”.
- Question 7 (column 8 of the chart): With the singles it can be seen that the “pie” divided quite evenly, i.e., there is equal interest toward the different activities in the project. And yet, most of them (20 people) have expressed desire to attend the seminars for “Management of personal finances”. It is a fact that one of the most common reasons for doing a crime is the material status and the life style of the perpetrator. That is why it is extremely important for these people to learn how effectively to manage their available means, regardless of their amount. 19 people each have pointed out as preferred both, the workshops for arts and the personal social-psychological meetings. This is to show the necessity of this group of surveyed for closeness and opportunity to share with somebody. Following is the seminar for leadership skills (18 people), and the seminar for entrepreneurship and the family gatherings for the holidays attracts an even number of interested (17 people).
Also in the group of the singles, the main expectations and desires are related to the possibility of mastering “something new and useful for life”. One of the surveyed has shared his expectation that the activities in the project would bring him “communication, knowledge, emotions”. He has also expressed his desire to learn to dance tango. Another is expecting: “to combine the useful with the pleasant” and according to him the activities in the project are not “simply formal”. “To better myself”, “To acquire knowledge and skills which will help me to develop perfect myself and to be useful for me in my future life” – these are some other interesting expectations from the surveyed. Encouraging are also the preliminary positive assessments, which are given to the project by the inmates: “the variety of possibilities which it offers and their possible future applicability”; “it gives a perspective for new beginning and constructiveness”; “encourages the process of character transformation and the search of non criminal ways and means for survival in society”; “one’s got the chance to start something new from the very beginning and to complete it and even finding your own mistakes”. One of the surveyed prisoners wrote as a recommendation to organise “a beginner’s class for drivers”, which, according to him, would cause a “boom of wanting one’s”. He has also expressed a desire in the frame work of the project to give prises for participation. The majority (38 people) are showing interest in the other activities of the foundation, as well as the volunteer initiatives. These mindsets of the singles are good grounds for drawing them into the different activities for the purpose of their successful re-socialisation in society.
- Participation in other projects (column 9 of the chart): 8 out of 43 until now haven’t participated in other courses in the premises of the Sofia Central Prison. The main courses mentioned are as follows: training in English and Italian language, computer literacy, courses on health topics, motivational courses, courses for mediators, “The way of the prisoner” project, yoga, fitness, course in entrepreneurship, drawing, social intermediation and mediation, course for creating goals, course on welding, Alpha course, boxing, football, etc.
Six of the surveyed men have indicated on their family status: divorced, which is below 1% of all participants.
- Average age (column 2 of the chart): 42 years
- Origin (column 4 of the chart): All of this group have identified themselves as Bulgarians.
- Education (column 5 of the chart): The greatest number are with mid school education (4). One is with high school and one with university level.
|2. Family status
|5. How do you like the possibility to acquire ne knowledge and skills?
|6. Would you participate in the project “The way of the new beginning” and why?
|7. Which of the activities in the project “The way of the new beginning” are you interested in and are willing to participate? *
|8. Have you taken part in any other project?и
|a), b), e)
|b), c), d), e), f)
|b), c), d), e)
- Willingness for training (columns 5 and 6 of the chart): All have stated that they like the possibility to acquire new knowledge and skills. Five of them express desire to get involved in “The way of the new beginning” project and only one emphatically refused. “Every new thing for me is a challenge”; “I would participate, in order to help with whatever I can”; I would participate in order to acquire new knowledge and skills for the future and eventually when I am going to be free” – these are the shared motives for participation.
- Question 7 (column 7 of the chart): “Seminar for entrepreneurship” and personal social-psychological meetings are the most preferred activities from the project in the group of the devorsed men (4 people each). This fact is probably due to the desire to enhance qualification, for the purpose of starting of their own small business and deviation from the criminal behaviour and the “easy” way. Three people have preferred the “Seminar for leadership skills”, two – “Management of personal finances”. This is an interesting result, especially with a view of the fact that similar training and leadership is needed where there is a team or an intention to have one; the work with these three inmates and the research of their motivation and intentions for future professional realisation deserves special attention. Having in mind their social status, as expected; only one has chosen as a possibility the family gatherings for the holidays. One of the challenges the team is facing is to try helping the participants in this group to restore the broken family connections. This is extremely important due to the crucial role of the family and loved ones for the successful re-integration in society. Only one again has expressed interest in the art activities.
And here the expectations again are related to the acquiring of new knowledge, “to be better, to enrich myself and develop intellectually”. One of the participants in the survey shares his desire for successful reintegration in society and strengthening the family relations: “To perfect myself by acquiring of new knowledge and skills for life in freedom. To improve my skills for communication, to know myself better and to strengthen the relations and connections with my loved ones”. Five have shown interest toward the thorough activity of Mission Salvation Foundation and its volunteers initiatives.
- Participation in other projects (column 8 of the chart): All have answered affirmative to this question, which confirms the willingness of this group to also participate in the activities directed to their successful reintegration in society. The courses attended by them so far are: language, tailoring, computer and financial literacy, social medicine, etc.
The majority of the surveyed, regardless of their family status, are stating that they like the possibility to acquire new knowledge and skills. 58 have already been part of some projects, conducted in the premises of Sofia Central Prison. Regardless of the motives they are driven by, 64 out of all 71 surveyed express willingness to get involved in activities from the project “The way of the new beginning”. In general, the preliminary expectations and mindsets are positive. All this gives us ground to believe that the project has a great extent of probability to achieve the planned goals.
“The way of the new beginning” project has been introduced to two target groups for the purpose of determining of their expectations and mindsets. The discussion is led by the coordinator of the project.
At the presentation of the project to the imprisoned in April, the facilitators have also taken part and introduced their particular programs for activities according to the project. The first target group has 18 people, where five of them have Roma origin. The second group consists of 13 inmates, where 10 out of them are with Roma origin.
80% of all participants in both target groups are married or live as family partners. 2/3 of all the 31 have expressed their willingness to join the project. In regard to their motivation: because of the increased interest and the few parallel projects taking place at the Sofia Central Prison, half of them or driven by curiosity. They want to see what difference would “The way of the new beginning” offer them. For 35 % determining motive is the possibility to “make a good use of their time” by doing this and 15 % have shared that “they are hoping to get to learn something new”.
Of greatest interest was the Seminar for entrepreneurship and the Seminar for leadership skills. Ivodor Kovachev, who has many years experience in the work with imprisoned people, explains their interest with the fact, that each one of them believes he can manage a group of people. “Curiosity provokes them to see what different things would offer them a Seminar for leadership skills, for example”, he explains.
The activities at the musical studio and the personal social-psychological meetings also provoke interest. The challenge that clearly emerges during the meetings in both target groups is to overcome the skepticism of the imprisoned. This is the main obstacle for the organisation of any activity, seminar, workshop in a closed and limited environment. Attentions deserves the opinion of many of them that with a small available resource it is not possible to start a legitimate small business in our country. However, this is not opinion only of the imprisoned men. It is being confirmed by sociological researches of the public opinion and the level of corruption in Bulgaria. Prisons are no excluded from the general mindset.
The majority of participants in the target groups are not familiar with sensibly management of the personal means, regardless of their amount. The personal example and stories of some of the facilitators, though, have presented them with a different point of view and provoked their interest. For example, the facilitator for entrepreneurship has shared her personal experience how she managed to succeed alone, with her own strength, from being a house cleaner to a facilitator in entrepreneurship and a manager of the administration at Ministry of Foreign Affears. The facilitator in management of personal finances also has told them his story, beginning as a hired worker with the small salary of 300 levs to the starting of his own small business. A conclusion can be made that what is needed is purposeful and continues work and policies in order to achieve long lasting results, especially after the end of this and other similar projects.
In regards to “The way of the new beginning” project, the personal example and engagement of the facilitators and volunteers will be one of the main methods of work.