A STUDENT researching mental health impacts on Irish prisoners in British jails is hoping to talk to people who have been through the system.
Part-time lecturer and PhD student at Kingston University in London, Mayo man Paul Gavin is keen to speak to Irish people who have served time in Britain.
“The research is part of my PhD at Kingston University, which aims to examine aspects of mental health of Irish offenders in Britain,” he said.
“The study involves examining issues of education, mental health and accommodation in order to find out if Irish prisoners are at a greater risk of suffering from mental ill health than the general prisoner population.”
He added: “I am seeking to interview anyone who is Irish, second-generation Irish or Irish Traveller who has served any sentence for any offence in Britain in the last five years.
“The interview is mixed with a set questionnaire which I would administer and it covers three main topics: mental health, education and accommodation. In total it should take no longer than one hour and is quite informal and the interviews are often best done over a cup of tea.”
For those who do not wish to partake in an interview, or who do not have the time, Gavin also has an online version of the questionnaire, which records answers anonymously and takes no longer than 15 minutes to complete, that he is hoping to find respondents for.
The researcher, who hails from Castlebar in Co. Mayo, studied law at NUIG Galway before moving to London five years ago.
Having started his PHD at Kingston University in 2012, he is hoping to complete it in 2016, but finding ex-offenders willing to share their stories for his research is crucial.
“While most groups who work with ex-offenders are supportive of this research, getting actual ex-prisoners to engage has proved difficult,” he admits.
In a paper published in the Irish Probation Journal earlier this year, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Irish Prisoners in England and Wales, Gavin highlighted the “very under-researched area in the penal landscape in England and Wales: the Irish Prisoner”.
For further information or to contribute to this study email [email protected]