(CIBS) Final year UWI student Enda Weekes, who is pursing her Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Social Work, says she is hoping to see change in her community where the prison stigma is reduced and persons convicted of crimes can reintegrate into society.
Weekes is also hoping to see a significant reduction in the high level of recidivism and is hoping to play a vital role in accomplishing such change.
The aspiring social made her ambition known in an interview at Her Majesty’s Prison in Kingstown during a bake-off among prison inmates that she and partnering student Sharii Roberts on November 7th, 2019.
The bake-off was part of Weekes’ macro project which involved working with inmates at the two penal institutions at Belle Isle and at the Kingstown facility which houses both males and females.
“Social workers change lives. That’s the number one reason why I chose to come to prison. There are other places I could have gone. I remember before I came to prison everybody asked me: ‘Why prison?’ Even the guards asked: ‘Why prison?’”
She said a supervisor at the prison asked what she was hoping to accomplish and she told her she wanted to “foster a relationship between the prison and people out there.”
“There are some guys here, they do not get any visits from family members. I want people to see prisoners as people. Everybody snap sometime. Everybody has something going on with them that can cause them to go over the edge. Everybody has something in their life they’re not proud of. So, I want people out there to see prisoners as people. When they come out, don’t call them ‘jail bird.’
“A man is coming, he’s trying to get a job, he’s trying to be a citizen that is lawful, do everything legal and then the system tramples them, you know. So, that is the change I want to see and that is what I wanted to show in the bake-off – that they’re not in here fighting one another, tearing down one another; they’re in here, can work together on a project, accomplish things, feel good for the other man who won.
“These are the things I want us to see out there as people, as a society. And, as a social worker to be, I want change in my community. Prison is the last stage, so I don’t want to see people coming to prison. So, I don’t want to see these guys go out and come back. So, that is why I can be involved in implementing things like this,” she said.
Weekes said that if a person has a skill, at least, they can go to somebody and utilize that skill and not be tempted to go down the road with a firearm and commit a crime. She said that with skills, former inmates can find self-employment and build themselves.
‘We have too much ills out there. We have too much things plaguing us. So, I want prison to be the last place people would come.
“I want the changes start in the home. I want people start looking out for the children, taking care of the children, know what they are doing, know what is happening with your children. Because, if your children go awry then you know the whole society gone mad. So, that is what I don’t want to see,” She said.
Weekes added: “So, coming to prison was the last stage and I just don’t want to see these guys go back. There are too much career criminals. We don’t want to see career in criminality. We want career in good things.”
Weekes said that she is hoping that when she completes her university degree next year, she will be employed as a social worker and she can “make some change in our community.”
“St Vincent is still a beautiful land. But, when our people go like how we go sometimes, people don’t wanna come here, people don’t wanna see us, people don’t wanna hear from us because we kinda have a lot of crime here. I don’t want that. I want to see St Vincent the beautiful land we know it is, hence my journey into social work. I want to make a difference from the family, from the individual right up to the institution,” Weekes said.