Training Prisoners In Optics
We work with the Prison Service and interview each prisoner to find out about their crime, the background to it and what the prisoner has done to make amends. Based on their responses we decide whether or not to take them on as a trainee.
We get to know each person over 10 weeks whilst training them in Ocular Anatomy, Understanding Prescriptions, Choosing Spectacle Lenses and Frames, Pre-Screening, Glazing, Adjusting Frames and taking Pupil Distance and Heights. During the 10 weeks of training we observe them to determine whether they would make good employees. We only recommend those trainees who we are confident will be an asset to an employer. Our trainees also sit an exam to obtain a certificate in Optical Customer Service.
Stories From Our Trainees
Former Lab Trainee
“I discovered The Prison Opticians Trust through inmates of mine who had done the program themselves. I decided I wanted an opportunity to learn new skills that would eventually be transferable to the outside world. The Trust not only gave me that opportunity, but also cemented my acknowledgement of the mistakes I’ve made and strengthened my resolve to reintegrate back into society. Furthermore, The Prison Opticians Trust has also given me ideas as to my own business ventures going forward, which I’m greatly looking forward to realizing.”
So where do I start? I lived a life of crime, thought I was untouchable, I was feared and in the end, I got a massive wake up call that not only opened my eyes to the destruction that I had caused but put me on a path that I see only lies with success and fulfilment.
Yes, I went to prison and I’m glad as if I hadn’t I would still be on that destructive path. During my time in prison, I owed it to everyone around me and myself to change my life around.
I was fortunate as I chose to go to certain establishments that have me that opportunity and that’s where I was introduced to the idea of getting into optics. Never in a million years would I have thought I would do something like this let alone actually enjoy it.
I was introduced to the team at Pen Optical and from there I started my journey. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but is it ever? To achieve great things you have to overcome a few hurdles. The course was great and gave me an insight into the numerous opportunities that were open to me in the future.
I really enjoyed the subject material based upon the anatomy of the eye, which has stuck with me till today. Fast forward to my release. I struggled to find a job. 152 C.V’s later and I ended up walking into my local Specsavers and telling them who I was and where I wanted to be.
Fortunately for me, the store director had heard great things about Pen Optical and basically wanted me to start straight away. Again fast forward 18 months and I’m still with Specsavers. I’m a senior lab technician and I run the lab with another colleague.
My path and future are set. I know where I want to be in the next few years and with my director’s support I am on my way to achieving that honourable goal. I enjoy life and I’m happy. So a big thank you to Tanjit and the Pen Optical team that helped me get here.
It’s a life worth fighting for and an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. Maybe one day soon I will be able to give something back to Pen Optical and show my appreciation?
I spent my teenage years tangled up in a life of crime and had been to prison before.
My most recent offence saw me imprisoned for a much longer sentence of 4.5 years and it was then I knew things had to change. The birth of my children was a wake up call.
My mindset switched and I wanted to learn something new to help me focus and to occupy my time in prison with something meaningful. I applied for a place on the training course at the Prison Opticians Trust and was successful. The work was challenging and interesting.
After four weeks I was offered a work placement at a high street Opticians. Fast forward six weeks and I have now been offered a permanent position.
I cannot thank the Prison Opticians Trust enough for giving me an opportunity to find work in a profession I had never considered. This experience has shown me that if I put in the work and change my mentality I can do things I never thought possible. I am going to make my children proud.
Transforming Prison Optics Since 2009
£ Taxpayer Savings
We deliver opticians services into 53 prisons in England and Wales.
Collectively our opticians have over 50 years experience of working in prisons. Every year we test the eyes of over 14,000 prisoners and dispense over 15,000 spectacles. We have the data intelligence to accurately forecast the eye care needs of each prison and use data to model our services to ensure efficiency without compromising quality of care.
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