Walking for forgiveness

Walking for forgiveness

By Liz Lockhart

A few months ago I had the pleasure of working with Frankie Owens, the author of a much acclaimed book ‘The Little Book of Prison’.  Frankie wrote a moving account of what life had thrown at him before he penned this book whilst being held at ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’.  You can revisit Frankie’s article here: 'Mental health in Prison'.

Frankie has suffered from hyper mania which is a part of the bipolar family, for the past 17 years.  Like so many other mental health patients he found himself bewildered when he was sentenced to spend time in prison.  Never one to be beaten, Frankie turned his time to writing The Little Book of Prison to make sense of his situation.  The book was very well received by both the literary world and its readers.

As if wasn’t enough that poor mental health bears much stigma, Frankie found that he had a new stigma battle on his hands as he fought to be accepted as an ex-offender.  Despite the success of his book, when it came to his book launch the local newspapers focused on his negative past instead of his positive work and hopes for a bright future.

The book launch was cancelled after threats were made in the book shop where the launch was to have taken place.  After this, the newspapers homed in on his past conviction and not his award winning book that has helped so many.  They did not give any coverage to his mental health disorder.

It was at this point that Frankie decided that he wanted to do something to highlight Forgiveness.  Frankie feels that forgiveness is imperative to ex-offenders in order for them to re-integrate into society and focus on a positive future.  Forgiveness is crucial to ensure that they do not fall into social isolation.

Whilst researching forgiveness, Frankie came across ‘The Forgiveness Project’.  This project works by collecting & sharing real stories of forgiveness and conflict resolution to help individuals transform the pain and conflict in their own lives. By delivering a restorative justice programme in prisons and outside, they build community resilience by working with victims to rehabilitate offenders.

This year Frankie Owens is to walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End, visiting towns and cities along the way.  Each destination will include visits to prisons, probation trusts, youth offenders groups, universities, and charities that work to help to promote understanding, rehabilitation and re-integration of ex-offenders.

The walk begins on 1st September in Scotland, walking for sixty days, until arriving at Land’s End on 31st October.  His target is to raise £10,000 for the Forgiveness Project and to raise awareness of the concept of forgiveness in our society.  You can donate in one of two ways.  You can either make a one-off donation, or you can sponsor Frankie for each completed leg of the journey.  Visit www.justgiving.com/Frankie-Owens for further details of how you can make a payment pledge.

Frankie says that any support you can give would be greatly appreciated.  If you are not able to help financially he asks that you spread the message of The Little Book of Prison and the Forgiveness Project, helping victims, offenders and their families.

Frankie told Mental Healthy "Prison is an interesting place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there…. if you want to know what going into prison is like, Little Book Prison is for you.  If you need to know what it’s like ...its definitely for you."

This summer we will run a list of dates and locations where you can find Frankie to cheer him on his way and to support him to reach his destination.

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