Spring 2018

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Family Day

Back in March the Beacon unit held one of its family days. These days give friends and family of the residents the opportunity to catch up with how their loved ones are doing and speak to some of the staff involved in their treatment. The afternoon also involved children’s activities such as giant Jenga and face painting and all children received a goody bag at the end. Food and refreshments were available to all those involved.

Some of the residents give their feedback:
“It was a better experience than the normal visits. We got more space to talk openly with family about jail and how it affects you. Also about what the Beacon is in depth so they know what you’re getting out of it and I enjoyed the buffet!”

“This was the first family day with kids and there was stuff for the kids to do. I would have liked to have seen more for them to do but as it was the first one, it is trial and error. I enjoyed it and I hope there are more for the lads in the future."


Open Day

The Beacon recently held an open day and invited various agencies including the Samaritans, probation and personality disorder services such as Resettle and HMP Frankland.

Our guests had the opportunity to learn about what we do on the Beacon, speak to staff and residents about their experiences and look around our facilities including our garden.

Both residents and staff worked really hard to ensure the day ran smoothly and made sure our guests felt welcome in our service. A big thanks to everyone who was involved and the services who attended.

We received some great feedback:
“Really informative and eye opening. Really enjoyed it.”

“Smashing.Great project, I would have opted to work here if I was an officer.”

We will be running more of these days in the future.

 Beacon library re opens

Our library rep talks about the reopening of the library and his role in offering the residents a valuable service:
“After a short hiatus, the Beacon Unit library re-opened it’s doors on 1st February.

Beacon residents are able to choose books from over 300 titles and also choose DVD’s from over 100 titles with more to come.

The hope is that all unit residents access the library and beat the boredom that usually comes with being on a PD unit. After groups there is a lot of down time and it’s important for residents to fill the time with positive and meaningful activities. Anna, an occupational therapist here on the unit, was instrumental in getting the library re-opened and re-stocked. Her hard work has hopefully ensured the Beacon unit Garth will have a successful library for many a long year to come.

The Beacon unit library is open on Thursdays between 5pm and 6pm.

The Beacon unit library rep role is available for all inmates to apply for. The role lasts for 6 months to ensure fairness for all. The role consists of cataloguing the books and DVD’s and issuing them to inmates on library day.

Also, the library rep does all the heavy lifting and putting all the books out on display and away again at the end. He also folds the tables and puts them away. Sometimes it’s all stick and no carrot. Future library reps can expect to prematurely get grey hair!”


Pad workout

This in-cell work out has been put together by one of our Beacon residents, why not give it a go!

Pad Workout 3 x sets (week 1) 90 seconds rest between sets.

25 Press ups     25 Sit ups 


25 Mountain climbers   25 Jumping jacks 


30 second plank 


Increase sets by 1 every week. 


The Beacon experience

A resident gives his view on what it’s like to be on the Beacon:

When I first came here it was a shock to the system how friendly the staff and lads were. My first 3 months was whether I should stay or go but it was explained clearly what was expected of me.
4 months in I did the change and identity group where I explored my behaviour and how I managed things. This changed me as a person as I learned how to react to people in a more positive way.

I like the occupational therapy groups like art and crafts and card making as there is no pressure and I can work at my own pace.
There’s other groups like ‘coping by doing’ and I’ve learned that when I am backed into a corner I can take a helicopter view of the situation by detaching from it and looking down as if I am seeing myself as a third person. When I do this, I am able to take a step back and react more appropriately.

The staff here are really approachable and bend over backwards to help me. They treat you like a human being. I’ve been here 15 months now and know that it will only benefit me in the long run.


It was a HOOT!

The Beacon offers a variety of different sessions to it's residents. We are currently running a rap project and last programme a charity called HOOT, who are a creative arts organization, delivered music based sessions. Some of our residents feedback on their experiences.

“Over 10 sessions we managed to write 3 original songs and learned to play(ish) the ukulele. They also taught us a traditional forest tribes hunting song called Ku de ku ku ru. At the end of the programme we did a small performance at the community meeting which was well received despite our nerves. I would recommend everyone to do HOOT if given the chance. Now let’s see if the rappers have nerves.”

“When I first started I thought, ‘oh my God’, but I was surprised by it and really enjoyed it. It’s not something I normally do and was way out of my comfort zone but it was fun.” “We learned something new every session, it was very entertaining. I enjoyed the performance and the HOOT staff were great.”

“It was an interesting experiment to take us away from our comfort zone. A group of guys feeling awkward achieved so much more than a couple of confident dudes could. I surprised myself in my ability to perform music in front of a group of people, had a great time.”


Focus on Personality Disorder

One of the Beacon’s referral criteria is to either have a personality disorder or significant personality needs. According to the mental health charity mind.org:

“Personality disorders are a type of mental health problem where your attitudes, beliefs and behaviours cause you longstanding problems in your life.

The word ‘personality’ refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviour that makes each of us the individuals that we are... If you have a personality disorder you may often experience difficulties in how you think about yourself and others. And you may find it difficult to change these unwanted patterns.”

Paranoid personality disorder You may:
Find it hard to confide in people even your friends.
Find it very difficult to trust other people, believing they will use you or take advantage of you.
Watch others closely, looking for signs of betrayal or hostility read threats and danger – which others don’t see – into everyday situations.

The Beacon recognises but does not focus on diagnosis. The focus is on men’s individual needs and understanding how and why they develop and how to address them (what we call ‘formulation’).


The enabling environment empowerment

The Beacon has now achieved the Enabling Environment Award which  means our unit develops and supports a healthy social environment.  The Enabling environment involves 10 standards; Belonging, Involvement, Boundaries, Structure, Safety, Openness, Communication, Development, Leadership and Empowerment.

The Beacon runs an enabling environment group, one of the members explains about empowerment below.

Empowerment is to encourage others to feel empowered, to be involved in decisions made about themselves and the environment, to have ideas implemented where possible.

The Beacon has met the above criteria by giving us the chance to interview new staff and our voices get heard. In the EE group

we had our ideas heard and implemented. We now chair the community meetings and have other activities to run including a quiz. There is also a discover and research team consisting of staff and residents where we have a lot of involvement in decision making.  Currently we are doing research on the referral process and offender engagement to better the Beacon environment now and for the future.


New live web page

Over the past year staff and residents on the Beacon have been working hard to create a  Beacon web page as part of the Mersey Care NHS Trust website.  The idea came from a meeting with residents to discuss how best to promote our service and enable family, friends and all organisations in the offender personality disorder pathway  to access relevant up to date information about our service.

The new webpage went live recently and includes information about our treatment model, referral process, testimonials from our residents and staff, examples of residents’ projects including art, poetry, charity work and all photographs of the unit were taken by residents. Family, friends and organisations can access the website using this address:

www.merseycare.nhs.uk/our-services/a-z-of-services  clicking on ‘B’ and choosing  ‘Beacon (HMP Garth)’

Many thanks to everyone involved in helping to create this.



Contact us:

If you have any questions or articles to send in, we would love to hear from you.

Please contact us at:

The Beacon Personality Disorder Unit
HMP Garth
Ulnes Walton Lane

All articles were written by residents and staff on the Beacon.


Creative writing

One of our residents has recently completed a creative writing course on the Beacon.

Here is an example of his work:

A myriad mix of shame, anticipation, anxiety and lust pulsed through his pubescent brain, tapping his feet and shaking his head at the floor, the best dancer in the world, not saying anything, not looking at anyone, wondering why no one wants some of his sweet moves. School discos for autistic kids: they’re bloody quiet.


Art work

Our residents continue to produce some excellent work in our art and crafts sessions.

 These may look like simple friendship bracelets but the method used is called Kumihimo which is Japanese braiding and usually involves seven or more strands of thread and is quite complex to do.

 Origami book marks. 

 A floor cushion made from T-shirt yarn recently created by a resident who is becoming increasingly skilled at crocheting and trying different patterns and materials. 

 Final fantasy image sketched onto a large canvas.