A View from The Verne

Paul Turner is one of our most pro-active Activity Providers. He and his daughter, Corinna, have been delivering Kings Cribbage at HMP The Verne, Portland.  Here are Paul’s thoughts.

“Teaching people how to play Kings Cribbage (the classic card game Cribbage, which is played as a board game with tiles) in Prisons for the very first time has undoubtedly been a very interesting journey and learning experience. Initially we decided as a father/daughter team to see if the game would appeal and provide a meaningful “mind stimulating activity” to help support a person’s life in prison. As you have already guessed, it just doesn’t quite work like that!

After a very warm welcome by a group of 10 at The Verne “Timeout Centre”, a few soon dropped out leaving 7 sceptical guys who said they would give it a go, although they would not have chosen to play had we not turned up. Our carefully prepared lessons were swiftly dispatched into ‘solitary’ after the very first class, and we decided to run a more fun and informal workshop; encouraging everyone to work at their own pace and teaching the game from the very basics. This gave the group time to develop their numerical, strategy, and scoring skills, which meant they got a lot more out of playing the game, as it also evolved into a fun, social and very interactive class.View from The Verne

The men’s enthusiasm each lesson was very contagious and caught the attention of Prison project leaders who over-viewed each session. From their perspective, our course was just part of a wider intergenerational activity programme. We had to deliver a meaningful course, hit prison target pathway goals, but they could clearly see the men benefiting from the game, developing their skills, and progressing each session; so they agreed to contribute a couple of games for use in the “Timeout Centre”.


This was a great “result” for the players, as they can now play the game as an on-going activity, broaden their skills, tutor others and bring on new players.  The evaluation showed an 83% improvement as judged by the prisoners.

Our thanks to the prisoners for such a warm welcome (may the tiles be with you); to RECOOP for organising the event, and the prison staff for all their support.”

Other successful activities from the Phoenix Legacy have been Cryptic Crossword training and setting up a chess tournament.


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