By Louise Timmons, 3rd year Criminology and Criminal Justice student
Prior to the third session of the ‘Debating Differences’ scheme in partnership with HMP Kirkham, as per the last two sessions, we were given the topic of the debate a week in advance and had to prepare arguments for both sides of the argument. This week’s topic was ‘Should controlled substances be legalised in England and Wales?’ Although on first instance, I disagreed with the idea of all controlled substances being made legal, after being put on the team arguing for controlled substances to be made legal, my perceptions changed with some good arguments put forward and by the end of the debate I wasn’t sure on my opinion anymore; showing just how influential these debates and whole experience has been.
The progression in confidence over the last three sessions is very clear and shows how comfortable everyone involved has become with each other. As someone who has never taken part in any debates before, I found that at first I was quite out my comfort zone speaking in front of strangers, especially those who I would not usually come into contact with on a daily basis. However, I have learnt so much and enjoyed the whole experience and would recommend it to anyone as sometimes people are so caught up in stereotypical perceptions of prisoners, when in fact they are just ordinary individuals like you and me that made a mistake.
Unfortunately, we only have one more session left but I am looking forward to it nonetheless. One thing I’m sure everyone who has been involved will agree on is that each session has been better with more heated debates and more developed arguments and responses, and the teamwork between students from UCLAN and the men in Kirkham has been phenomenal and has just come naturally, breaking down any boundaries that could’ve existed beforehand.
This has been an amazing experience in which I am grateful for being chosen to take part in as it really does make you think outside the box and think more into things than you usually would. I feel this has been a very positive way to end my 3 years at university and one I will remember for years to come.