As I sat at my desk last week, catching up on the backlog from being out of the office attending Common Purpose events, I found my thoughts straying back to the experiences of Friday 4th, in particular where the team visited both HMP Barlinnie and HMP Low Moss.

The contrast was striking and yet there were remarkable similarities in the two sites. The first being a Victorian built facility, the other being the newest addition to the Scottish Prison Service estate, operational for just under 2 years.

Whilst both teams are facing relatively similar challenges, the opportunities presented by the establishment of a new, purpose-built facility were evident for all to see. Being released from long established constraints has allowed for the consideration of changes in practice and thought processes, to allow for ambitions to be stretched that little bit further.

I could not fault the dedication, enthusiasm and skill of all concerned in tackling hugely complex issues, and was very grateful for the time, patience and good humour of our guides and experts-in-field who were happy to share from their experiences, both good and bad. It helped me to gain a modicum of perspective on the scale of my own challenges when compared to those of the various sites within SPS. What was reassuring is that the nature of these challenges is pretty consistent regardless of the size of the organisation. This was further explored with my colleagues in the workshop, where the extent of overlap between our different issues was evident.

It was also initially unsettling and then ultimately refreshing to be out of contact for a day, with no mobiles or laptops in sight. I think that I will certainly have a designated 'no tech' day once a month from now on to give me a fresh perspective and lease of life!