In ten of 14 prisons in Ireland, a small group of special-status Irish Red Cross volunteers combines an innovative community-based health approach with the Red Cross Red Crescent Fundamental Principles to change the lives of troubled men, transform prison culture, reduce violence and improve the physical and psychological health of inmates.
Since the Community Based Health and First Aid (CBHFA) programme was put in place, the percentage of fights involving an illicit, handmade blade has gone down from 97 per cent to 10 per cent in one year. The result has been fewer injuries and reduced prison health-care costs.
But the real beauty of the programme is that the volunteers don’t come from outside the prison. They are the inmates themselves.