Qualitative data analysis | My Assignment Tutor

LC571 CW1 Qualitative data analysis Rachel is a PhD student at the University of Middleham.  The working title for her PhD research is “Blame and Shame: Experiences of having a male relative in prison”.  This is a qualitative piece of research.  Rachel has conducted focus group interviews and some of her participants are keeping a journal where they record their feelings when they visit their relative in prison.  She has received ethical approval from the University for her research. Here is an extract from one of Rachel’s focus group interviews.  The interview was conducted in a quiet room in the community centre used by the Prison Relative Advice Group (PRAG), a charity based in Middleham which provides social support and legal and financial help to its members. In this extract, Rachel is interviewing the following participants. Josie – aged 48 whose son, Josh, is serving a five year sentence for drug and burglary offences.  Josh is 23 years old and he has been a Young Offenders Institution and an adult prison prior to being sentenced for this offence. Frank – aged 73 whose grandson, Adam (22), is serving a sentence of 18 months for shoplifting and drug offences.  This is Adam’s first time in prison. Victoria –aged 52 whose son, James (25) is serving a 12 month sentence for drug offences.  This is James’s first time in prison. Rachel: Thank you all for coming to the interview today and I’d like to start by asking each of you how you felt when you heard that your relative was going to prison. Josie: OK I’ll start ……. Well to be honest with you, I wasn’t surprised.  I knew Josh was heading to prison and I knew it would be a longer sentence than before …… Rachel: How did you know? Josie: Well …. The solicitor told Josh.  She tried to persuade him to plead guilty …. He didn’t want to at first, but then he did.  He would have got a longer sentence if he said he was innocent.  Rachel: So how did you feel about that? Josie:  I hoped he wasn’t guilty, but in my heart I knew …. But nothing prepares you for when the judge says that you’re going to prison.  I tried not to cry …. I could feel all eyes on me you know what I mean?  I didn’t want to crack but I was thinking “here we go again, back to square one.” Rachel: What about you Victoria? Victoria: [Laughs] I couldn’t hide my feelings, I’m not brave like Josie ….. I cried and when I got home, I cried even more.  I think I cried for two days straight …. You see, I’m on my own here.  Without James, I have no one, no family …. They are so far away …. They are all in Kenya …. I love James so much … he’s my baby and he’s the man around the house.  I didn’t think I’d cope to be honest with you. Josie: Ahhh Victoria …. You’ve got us …. Victoria: I know, I know.  I don’t know what I’d do without you all ….. [Talking over each other, indistinct] Rachel: What about you, Frank? Frank: My wife and I weren’t in court when Adam was sent down.  We couldn’t face it.  The night before, Pam and I didn’t get a wink of sleep and Pam gets heart palpitations so I have to look after her health.  I was worried she was going to have a heart attack if we went down to court.  She couldn’t stand the stress.  I know she felt so ashamed … Adam’s a good lad …. we couldn’t understand what went wrong …… how did this happen?  Our lovely boy ending up in prison.  Even now, I know she cries in the house when she thinks I can’t hear her.  Every time we go to visit him, she cries all the way home and the next day, she’s so quiet.  It’s such a strain for us.  We love him and we never miss a visit, but it’s exhausting ….. Rachel: Can you all tell me more about the prison visits? Victoria: It’s always a really long day.  I leave the house at 7.00 to get to the prison by visiting time.  I don’t drive, so it’s a bus, a train and another bus.  When you get there, there’s so much waiting around.  You get to the Visit Centre and it’s crammed full of families, grandparents right down to babies, all in this waiting room.  You have to put all your stuff in a locker … you know like your purse and your phone.  Then you have to queue with your ID so that the prison staff know that you are on the list to visit.  The kids who are there get really bored and start running around everywhere and everyone’s gets a bit tense.  Once we were waiting in the Visit Centre for three hours before we could even go into the prison ….. something had happened inside.  I don’t know what but we thought they weren’t going to let us all in.  You can’t find out anything …. No one will tell you.  That time, I missed my train home and didn’t get back until nearly midnight.  But you just have to sit there and try to be patient, bite your tongue cos if you get angry, there’s always the chance you won’t get to go in …. I usually take some knitting to pass the time. Josie: Yea the waiting is terrible.  No one ever told me about the amount of time I would spend waiting for buses, waiting for phone calls, waiting to go into the prison, waiting to be searched …. Half my life is spent waiting ….. Victoria: When you finally get into the Visits Hall where the prisoners are sitting, you are allowed to hug them.  I thought I was going to scream the first time I saw James sitting there! I just managed to hold it in …. I knew he wouldn’t like it but when I hugged him, I didn’t want to let him go …… Rachel:  What are the visits like? Frank: It’s so hard when you see them sitting there.  The room is always too hot and the lights too bright.  They hurt your eyes after a while …. And you can’t say the things you want to say cos everyone can hear.  I don’t like to tell Adam too much about what’s going on with us …. y’know like with his Nan’s health … cos I know he’ll think that he’s to blame.  There’s lots of stuff you have to hide. Pam and I have to put on a brave face for him. Josie: Yea like when I heard that Molly [Josh’s former girlfriend] had started seeing someone else.  That was bad enough, but to be fair, they hadn’t been getting on well before he went inside so he wasn’t surprised when she stopped going to visit him …. But when my friend told me that Molly and the baby had moved in with her new boyfriend …. Rachel: Is Josh the baby’s dad? Josie: Yes, yes ….. he dotes on her …. She’s so sweet, adorable.  I knew that Josh would go mad if he heard that Molly and Freya were with living with another man …. I mean absolutely mad, like smash up his cell or hit someone ….end up with a longer sentence …. I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t tell him but I knew he’d find out from someone … like someone would see it on Facebook or something …. Rachel: What did you do? Josie: Well I got my brother to go and see Josh.  They always got on well.  My brother always tried to be a good influence on Josh, y’know talk to him about stuff …. talk Josh down if he got too angry … once Josh gets cross, he just loses it ….  and I don’t know … I thought it might be better coming from another man.  My brother could talk to him about how he could be a good dad even if he’s not living with Freya …. I was a bit of a coward I suppose … Victoria: No, no, no mother wants to see her child hurting.  You are always there for Josh, through thick and thin. Rachel: How did Josh react to the news? Josie: Well he was upset, but he didn’t kick off ….. my brother told him that if he stayed calm, maybe Molly would let me could bring Freya to see him sometime…. but if he was violent, well no way would Molly agree to Freya coming.  I think there’s a Prison Officer that Josh gets on with, you know, can talk to sometimes about stuff that’s going on.  That helped too. Frank: I would have given up long ago if it weren’t for you Josie … you’ve help Pam and me so much.  We just didn’t know anything about the prison system.  Josie’s has the answer to all our questions.  Like, it’s not like you can just ask anyone about what it’s like when your grandson goes to prison.  Most people haven’t got a clue and they’d look you funny if you tried to talk to them about it. Rachel: Is that your experience, Frank? Frank: Well it’s like a big secret hanging over us.  Close friends know but they don’t ask too much about it … embarrassed I suppose, they don’t want to upset you.  But like the other week, Pam and I were in the town and we bumped into this lady we used to see a lot when Adam was younger.  Her son used to do the same swimming competitions as Adam.  I forget their names … but anyway … when we saw us, she was straight over to say hello and she was telling us all about her son.  He’s at university, he’s got a girlfriend, they went on holiday to Croatia. And I was dreading that she would ask about Adam … Rachel: And did she? Frank: [Laughs] No, she was so full of all the things her son was doing, she didn’t have time to ask us anything, thank goodness!  Then we said, we had to rush as our parking was going to run out …. But that’s why I come here, cos I know that people here know what it’s like.  They know the shame you feel, they know how drained you feel, they know how you keep asking yourself what you did wrong. Rachel: What do you mean? Frank: Well I mean, when we brought Adam up …. His mum was in and out of hospital, always bad with her nerves and his dad left when Adam was a baby.  It was Pam and me, we were like his mum and dad.  We were so proud of him, with his swimming and his football and then he got his apprenticeship, we were as pleased as punch! Rachel: What happened then? Frank: He got in with the wrong crowd …. Some lads he used know from school.  He started taking drugs and then started dealing.  Then he lost his apprenticeship and drugs were all he had.  It was like a spiral.  He owed money to some pretty nasty people, so then he had to deal more to pay off the debt.  Eventually he got caught … and here we are ….. he’s in prison, we’re in prison. Rachel: How do you mean, you’re in prison? Frank: Well when your relative goes to prison, it’s not just them that gets punished.  Everyone in the family gets punished … Pam, Josie, Victoria, even little Freya, she’s getting punished …. Those kids you see in the Visit Centre waiting to go in to see their dads.  Heart-breaking … it’s no place for little ‘uns ….. Josie: That’s right Frank.  We are in a lonely place. Rachel: What about your family, Victoria? Do you feel that they support you? Victoria: Well ….. it took me a while to pluck the courage to tell my family.  They live so far away, I talk to them on Skype every few weeks.  At first, I used to say, “Oh sorry, James has gone out” or “James is at work” to explain why he wasn’t at home when they called. Eventually, though they started to suspect something was wrong.  They kept asking “Has James got a girlfriend?” “When is James coming back to Kenya for a visit?” When my mum was in hospital, she wanted to see James and I knew I would have to tell the truth. Josie: What did you do, Victoria? Victoria: I told my sister first.  I thought she would shout at me but she looked so sad. Rachel: Why did you think she would shout at you? Victoria: Because I’d lied, because I’d let them down.  They always talk about their family in England and how well we’re doing … I knew my sister was upset, but she said I should have told her before, that I shouldn’t have struggled on by myself.  She knows that James isn’t a bad person.  My sister and her husband will try to get James a job in Nairobi for when he comes out of prison, like in a restaurant maybe.  They have friends who own a restaurant and they say that James could get a job in the kitchen cos he’s working in the kitchen at the prison now.  When James comes out of prison, he said he wants to go back to Kenya, get a fresh start.  If James leaves, I’ll go with him. Frank: We’ll miss you, Victoria. Victoria: I’ll miss you too, you are such good friends to me. Josie: You’re lucky Victoria because James won’t go back to prison …. You can tell … he’s learnt his lesson …. He’ll get on the straight and narrow … Rachel: What about Josh? Do you think he’s go to prison again? Josie: [Long pause] Yea I think so …. This is my life now …. Going backwards and forwards to see him …. Telling him stuff about Freya …. what she’s been getting up to. That’s not the sort of mum I wanted to be …. I know Josh has always been a handful, even as a kid.  He couldn’t sit still, always up and down, up and down.  The school were on the phone to me every day! “Can you come and get him, we’ve had to take him of class again”.  When he was diagnosed with ADHD, I thought “Great, now something will happen, he’ll get some help, we can sort this.” Rachel: Did he get help once the ADHD was diagnosed? Josie:  After about a year! Eventually he got some help.  The school had a TA [Teaching Assistant] who sat with Josh.  She was great, but then when he went to secondary school, everything had to start again …. Another assessment, more waiting …. And all the while, Josh was getting worse …. Rachel: In what way? Josie: Well … you know … he has a quick temper and it’s so easy to wind him up, without even meaning to … like if you just asked him to do something or you asked a question about school.  You always had to watch yourself.  It never took much for him to fly off the handle.  The school really struggled with him and I can understand that because I struggled as well …. Rachel: Right …. Josie: But if there’d been proper help for Josh in school … like help with his school work as well cos he finds all that stuff hard.  When he couldn’t do the work, he’d kick off and get told to leave the classroom.  But the thing is, he’s not stupid … it’s just the stuff he had to do in school that he couldn’t cope with … [long pause] … I really think that things could have turned out differently for Josh and me ….. like he wouldn’t have been expelled from school and wouldn’t have got into trouble with the police …. Wouldn’t have got mixed up with that gang ….. we wouldn’t be where we are …… Rachel: What do you think Josh’s future will be like? Josie: I’m pessimistic …. Yeah, I don’t feel good about it at all, if you must know… Josh is like he’s stuck in a revolving door. He goes to prison, does his time, gets out …. Then some of his old friends start coming round and he’s back to his old ways.  Always got some scheme, my Josh, always thinking he can be clever ….. but the police know him, so he’s always on the list if summat’s up … Rachel: How do you mean? Josie: Well he has a reputation doesn’t he? The police will always come round here if something is going off somewhere.  Doesn’t mean it’s always him, but the police will always come and check! Victoria: It’s so shameful …. Having the police turn up and take your relative away in handcuffs.  When James was arrested, the neighbours came out to see what was going on …. I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I thought I would die of shame.  Everybody looking and talking ….. some of the people at church wouldn’t sit next to me.  Can you believe it?!  They had sat next to me at church every week for years, I thought they were my friends …. and then they didn’t want to be seen with me.  Frank: Oh Vic, that must have been awful ….. Victoria: Oh it was.  Sometimes, it’s been hard going out of the house.  My best friend at church helped me.  She spoke to the pastor and he sorted it out.  He spoke to them and then the church even gave me some money, cos without James’s wage, I was struggling to cover the rent…. Rachel: That’s something I wanted to ask you all about.  Have you found that having a relative in prison has affected your money situation? Victoria: Well, for me, my job doesn’t pay much.  I work in a nursing home.  If I work nights, I get paid more, but it’s really hard at night….. there are fewer staff on and you are looking after more people.  It’s bad for your health as well … it upsets your sleeping and eating.  I started getting stomach pains when I worked nights for too long so I had to go back to the day shifts even though it pays less.  That was OK when James had money coming in from his job in the hotel, but once that went ….. I don’t have enough to cover the rent and bills unless I’m really careful.  Before James went to prison, if something needed doing around the house, like a repair, he would do it …. But now, I have to get someone in or leave it broken … I’m always worrying about money.  And then there was the cost of going to back and forth to court and taking time off work.  Now James is a hundred miles away! The cost of the train …. My goodness! Frank: People don’t realise that when your relative goes to prison, they’re sent somewhere far away.  It costs such a lot to visit them. Josie: And then sometimes, they’re transferred to another prison even further away … costs even more ….. [Talking over each other, indistinct] Frank: We generally drive when we see Adam …. I don’t think Pam would cope going on the train.  Like I said before, she can get a bit teary. Apart from the costs of going to see him, I don’t think Adam being in prison has affected us financially.  We’re both retired see and we have our pension.  Adam wasn’t living with us and we didn’t rely on his wages …. Having said that though, Adam’s lost the flat he was living in so when he’s released, he’ll probably come to us before he gets on his feet so there’ll be an extra mouth to feed and, of course, we’ll try and help him with money until he gets a job, which could take a while …. Rachel: Why do you think it will take a while? Frank: Well, once you’ve got a record, people don’t want to employ you. Rachel: What about for you Josie? Josie: Well Josh was living with Molly … his girlfriend I mentioned earlier ….. before he went inside.  I used to give them money when I could afford it … y’know to get some stuff for Freya … The cost of visiting him is hard definitely.  I’m going to try to put some money aside for when he comes out … I can’t afford much but I just want to have a few nice things ready for him …. Rachel:  Josie said earlier that you are in a “lonely place”.  Is that how you all feel? Victoria:  Oh yes Frank: Yes definitely.  We all miss our boys, all the birthdays when they’re not there … that sort of thing …. But it’s more than that.  We feel shut out.  It’s something you have to hide …. This place [PRAG] is my lifeline.  I think I would have been locked up myself if I couldn’t come here!  You see people coming in for their first time, when their family member has just gone to prison, and you can see that lost look in their eyes.  They’re scared that someone is going to ask them about their relative and they will have to come clean and tell the truth …. Victoria: But it’s not like that is it?  No one asks you anything apart from your name.  You have to give people time to tell you what they want you to know.  Frank and I have had training about how to welcome people to PRAG, to make them feel at home, without making them feel that they have to tell you everything. Rachel: What was the training? Frank: It was for a couple of days wasn’t it Vic… Victoria: Yes, how to listen to people, being friendly without it being too much, where people can go to get help, like with benefits, legal help and stuff like that.  I actually learned a lot.  Frank does some other volunteering now with the Citizens Advice Bureau, don’t you Frank? Frank: Yes I do.  Once a week I go into CAB. It’s just answering the phone and sometimes I show people websites of where they can get information on claiming benefits, things like that.  The people at CAB know about Adam, I didn’t hide it from them.  In a funny way, my grandson being in prison has helped me at CAB …. They don’t want you to judge the people coming in for advice, y’know, their situations like if they are about to be evicted or something ….. but because of Adam, I know that people can get into a mess but it’s not their fault, it doesn’t make them bad people.  It’s the same when I help out at PRAG … don’t be so quick to judge.  You need to find out people’s story, show empathy. It gets me out of the house anyway! [Laughs] Rachel: That’s really interesting …. Frank: Yeah and I used to be hopeless on the computers … really slow and I could never make it work …. Adam used to laugh at me about it …. But now, I’m like a proper whizz kid! I actually helped someone out when I was at CAB the other week.  She couldn’t get on the internet and I re-booted it for her! Can you believe it?  I’m going to tell Adam when we visit next ….. He’ll laugh … I try and think of things to tell him y’know to keep the conversation going, otherwise it’s gets depressing …. Josie: You know what makes me feel most depressed?  It’s think about the person I miss the most.  And it’s not Josh, it’s Freya.  Now Josh is inside, I don’t see her much anymore.  She’s moved away with her mum and her new fella.  They used to live a few streets away, but now she’s not so close and I haven’t seen her for nearly three months.  Before Josh went inside, they were at my house every other day.  She’s such a darling, made me laugh with her antics … but now that’s gone …. That’s why I’m in a lonely place […. long pause …..] sorry everyone ….. [indistinct] Victoria: Oh Josie, come here darling …… you see no one sees this, they don’t know about how it all effects the families ….. Frank: We’re collateral damage …. I worry about what goes on inside the prison.  You hear such stories, there’s always something on TV about prison riots or drugs in prison.  What’s that new drug that everyone talks about? Victoria: You mean spice?  They smuggle it into prison. Rachel: How do they smuggle it in? Victoria: Any way they can! You wouldn’t believe what gets smuggled into prison.  Spice can be put on a piece of paper, like a children’s picture, and when the prisoner gets given this picture, he can lick the paper and it gets him high. I’d never heard of such a thing ….. Frank: Drugs in prison is a terrible thing.  You think they are going to get clean in prison, but they are everywhere.  They deal in prison, using the mobile phones that they’ve smuggled in. Josie:  Sometimes stuff gets dropped in using drones. Frank: Yeah, and then there are fights cos someone owes someone else money for their drugs.  That really scares me …. that Adam will get caught up in that, get beaten up …. Josie: Josh told me that someone’s family got threatened because their boy owed a dealer money in prison ….. this man is on Josh’s landing and he owed money but he couldn’t pay it, so the guys who are the dealers had someone threaten his little brother when he came out of school and they filmed it on their phone.  Then it gets shown to the man in prison and he has to pay the debt.  People think that being in prison means you’re are cut off from the outside world, but it’s not like that.  Everybody is watching you, everybody knows what you’re doing ….. Victoria: That’s so scary.  I’m always worried that James will get hurt but I can’t tell him that.  I can’t let it show when I see him.  He has to think that I’m coping with everything …. There’s a lot of them inside that do try and hurt themselves you know … there just aren’t enough staff in the prison to look after people properly. Josie: That man I was just telling you about …. The one with the debt …. Josh told me he tried to kill himself and he’s in the prison hospital now … Frank: Oh my God, that’s awful.  I try not let Pam hear about any of this.  It would send her over the edge. Victoria: We have to stay strong for our boys ….


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