Pro Bono – The African Prisons Project

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A new initiative, started this academic year by the UWE Pro Bono Unit, has been our link up with the African Prisons Project.  Through this our law students work remotely assisting prisoners and warders in Uganda and Kenya. Kathy Brown explains more in this blog:

Following a volunteer trip by Kathy Brown to teach law in Kenyan prisons in December 2016, a new UWE pro bono activity was created.  Her role in Kenya was to support Kenyan law tutors employed by a UK based charity called African Prisons Project (APP) to teach law to APP sponsored University of London (UOL) external LLB students.  She described the experience as life affirming but realised her position as a law lecturer at UWE put her in a position to share her access to legal resources with the Kenyan (and Ugandan) prison LLB community.  She realised too that this was something she should take to and share with her own LLB students.

In September 2017, supported by her FBL Librarian colleague Julie Hamley and Bristol Law School colleague, Dr Thomas Webber she launched  APP.  Together with the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School lead for pro bono, Marcus Keppel-Palmer. They agreed to principally target Level 1 students, filling a gap in terms of the pro bono activities offered to new students.  Kathy’s other priority was to make the activity as inclusive as possible – and this has become central to the pro bono activity. Selection for the activity was based on a willingness to try rather than academic excellence or pre-existing skills.

The focus of the activity was to provide APP LLB tutors and students with all the materials they would otherwise be able to access for themselves were they based at a university.  In return, students would be able to develop their own legal research skills as well as develop soft skills such as confidence building, working with different year groups and interacting with international tutor colleagues. In addition, students could make the project they wanted it to be, responding to the needs of APP tutors and adapting their roles on the basis of their experience as law students.

Nine months on the main objectives of the activity have been met. UWE students have been able to talk about the outcomes of their learning and development through the UWE Student Research conference and the UWE (staff) Learning and Teaching Conference.

In terms of their direct involvement and engagement with the APP students in Kenya and Uganda, they’ve shared in the excitement of APP’s first LLB graduation ceremony in Luzira Men’s prison in Uganda (live streaming). Consistent with the activity’s inclusive values, five UWE students from three year groups have been given the opportunity to work in three Kenyan prisons during July and August.

To find out more about the APP please click here https://africanprisons.org/