Hopeful World: Joanna Hobson, Kahaila-Reflex - London

Hi Jo, what is Kahaila-Reflex all about? 

Kahaila-Reflex exists to have a positive impact in the lives of female young offenders and ex-offenders – empowering them to break free from the destructive cycles of crime they are caught in.

Working in prison and the community, we deliver accredited life skills courses; pastoral and mentoring support; and act as a gateway to resettlement opportunities to help these women move forward positively and enable them to flourish.

Whereabouts are you based and who are you working with?

We specialize in working with young women in prison and so prison is where we spend most of our time! Based in the Chaplaincy department, we support the women during their sentence and as they make the difficult transition back into life outside. Life is very hard for the women we work with - many of them have experienced tragic levels of suffering, loss and trauma and spent a great deal of their lives being misunderstood; written off as hopeless cases.

Up until this year we have spent most of our time working inside Holloway prison, however that is closing this year so our project will be on the move and we will relocate to another women’s prison. On the days when we’re not in prison, you will find us working from Kahaila (our church and charity social-enterprise café on Brick Lane); delivering life skills courses at our sister project Luminary Bakery; or travelling round London meeting up with the women we are supporting in the community. 

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 What are you most proud of?

There are so many things we are proud of about the project and the brilliant women we work with have made. One of our proudest achievements is that, of all the courses we’ve run in the prison over the past 3 and a half years, we have never had a woman drop out of a course as they’ve all engaged so well – this is quite rare for courses run in prison, due to past negative experiences a lot of the women have had in educational contexts. So we’re very proud of that!

It’s also great when you get to see the impact your work is having in the women’s lives. For example, we delivered a course to one young lady while she was in prison and are now supporting her outside in the community. She said recently that she feels much better equipped to deal with knock backs she is facing in trying to get a job and establish a new life outside because of the work she did with us inside. She says the course helped her understand that you’re always going to experience failure and knock backs in life, but the key thing is to never give up! This young lady is doing brilliantly outside; working hard to finish a college qualification and gain employment. It’s a real privilege to have been part of her journey.

How can people find out more and get involved?

You can find us on social media here – where we’ll keep you updated on the project and also for news and resources about the criminal justice system in the UK.

Twitter: @kahaila_reflex

Facebook: facebook.com/kahaila.reflex

Website (temporary): kahaila.com/charity/reflex

Here are 3 ways you could get involved:

  1. By making a financial donation. This is a great way of supporting the project as we rely on the generosity of our supporters to make the project sustainable and to keep the courses running.
  1. Volunteer with us, helping deliver the courses in either in the prison or the community. If this is something you are interested then you can contact contact@k-reflex.co.uk
  1. Ask your workplace about their employability procedures – are they open to giving people a second chance and employing or providing work-experience to ex-offenders? If you think this could be a possibility where you work then we’d love to hear from you contact@k-reflex.co.uk

 Tell us three things that make you hopeful…

The women we work with. Despite all they've been through and the knock backs they have experienced, they don't give up. They are living examples of true strength.

Our supporters. Knowing there are people out there who care about the women in UK prisons; that they have not been forgotten.  

Our faith. It gives us strength, compassion and inspiration to work with women in prison in the best way we can.

Thank you Joanna Hobson, Project Manager of Kahaila-Reflex for answering our questions and letting us share your inspiring work


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