In 2015 Jacqueline Hollows founded Beyond Recovery which brings the understanding of innate health and well-being to incarcerated people. Now, she’s launching a book about her experiences, called Wing of an Angel, so that this understanding can be shared in prisons all over the UK.
A social and digital entrepreneur, author, mentor and professional speaker, Jacqueline Hollows has lived experience of trauma and addiction. She founded Beyond Recovery in 2015 and has impacted hundreds of lives. Jacqueline also trains and mentors facilitators and those who wish to have more peace and success in their lives.
- Seeing first-hand the impact the 3 Principles had on drug users
- On starting to work in prisons
- Starting one of the first research projects about innate health
- On the changes observed in prisoners when they begin to see their innate well-being
- The experience of being seen and heard for the first time
- How we can do seemingly impossible things, if we take it one step at a time
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Find Jacqueline Hollows’ Kickstarter campaign here
- Jack Pransky’s book Somebody Should Have Told Us
- Jules Swales, writing and creativity coach
- Dicken Bettinger’s website
Transcript of Interview with Jacqueline Hollows
Alexandra: Jacqueline Hollows, welcome to Unbroken.
Jacqueline: Thank you. So nice to be here.
Alexandra: Nice to see you. Great to have you here.
Give us a little bit about your background and how you came across the three principles.
Jacqueline: Okay, so I was in IT customer services for many, many years. And a number of things collided as they do. I realized that I didn’t like it. And, but I did like people. So I retrained, I did live coaching, counseling NLP, EFT, anything with a three-letter acronym.
I came across a paradigm called the three principles or also known as innate health. And I became very interested in that. I actually didn’t like it personally, actually. I hope it’s okay to say this, but I actually thought it was a cult. I was very, very suspicious of it.
But I’d met someone just accidentally, who was in recovery from a heroin addiction for the for the whole of his life. And he’d got three years recovery under his belt when I met him. And he’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. I just hung out with him, I volunteered on his social enterprise. And I met a lot of other people from that background. And I thought they were amazing.
I started to talk to them about this Inside Out nature of life and stuff. And it was having an impact. And it was in the kitchen, I was making a cup of coffee in the kitchen with them. And he used to do home detoxes where a nurse comes in and does the meds. And he would look after people while they’re going through the detox. I would talk to them and then they would get jobs, and they would make up new relationships.
And they decided to write books and, and I’d be thinking, wow, this really works on them. And then, over time, I thought that was so amazing, and so inspiring and determined, I really felt like I came home to my people. And over time, I eventually thought, well, if they’re all amazing, I must be amazing, too.
So that started me really then going, I’ll give this another look and looking in this direction. Actually, that led me to meeting someone who worked in a prison and a substance misuse team, and then delivering our programs in prison and evidence in them and so on. So that’s where I what I’ve been doing for the last eight years.
What was it about working in prisons that attracted you?
Jacqueline: You know what, it didn’t? It didn’t, it didn’t it was just that. On one day, I’d been an associate coach for somebody who was running a program in a hotel, a very plush hotel, sort of where I imagined myself to be once I built my coaching practice up and I was like the assistant and I helped her and went around the tables, and I really had a good time. And then the following day, I got this meeting with this guy, this substance misuse manager in the prison, and I was just doing anything at that point I’ll go along and I’ll speak to anybody.
I was in the gatehouse as they call it, of this prison. I felt absolutely petrified my stomach was turning over. It was grubby, and pre COVID. Things have improved a little since COVID. But pre COVID It was stinking grubby, and wasn’t a very nice even at the reception gate. And I thought, I want to work here. I had no idea why.
Then the guy came through and he collected us. And we went through all these gates. And it was scary. And I mean, it’s about a five minute walk from the gatehouse to where we were meeting. And I remember feeling like, what about if I meet a prisoner? What about if someone asked me something, am I allowed to speak, I’m allowed to talk to the guy had had no idea.
I know we’re going to talk about my book later. But one of the reasons why I’ve written my book is because I want other people to know people in prison, they’re just people, or who have happened to done something naughty, sometimes something really bad, and they’re in prison, but they’re still people. All I knew about prison was what I’d seen on the TV, and whatever I’d seen in the media, and so it felt like a very scary place.
But for whatever reason, I just felt like that’s where I was meant to do. And so sometimes people say, oh, I want to work in prison, but I never actually wanted to work, but it just happened.
And that’s another thing is like, things occur to you. Whether you like it or not, and you should just follow those threads. I had this meeting with this guy didn’t go very well. He’s married to a forensic psychologist. So he kept saying, You ever heard of people change? Yeah. And I kept saying, I don’t know, I just, I don’t really know how it works. And he was the lead of the NHS, which is our national health system. So she was there, like these two really important people with all this knowledge and background, and I was I don’t know, I just talked to them.
But something about what I said, I eventually said, it’s not going very well, can we have a break? And we went and made a drink. And then I just started chatting to him about what I’d been seeing with these amazing people in the community. And that I really didn’t understand the gubbins. And he said, “You know what, I think we should give him a go.”
Actually, he said, “This sounds very similar to something I’ve got on my wall.” He had read, Stop Thinking, Start Living by Richard Carlson. Got a sign on his wall, stop thinking start living. And I said, yeah, yeah, absolutely is the same thing. And he said, Oh, he said, Sydney Banks must have got it from him. It was the other way around.
Anyway, so yeah, he got really interested. And he said, Do you know what, we’ll give it a go? And so put together a proposal. And then he said, How much would it be? Well, I hadn’t even thought about price. So I said, Oh, I don’t know, 50 quid. And he snapped my hand up, and he said, Write me a proposal. And afterwards, when I left, I realized I lived 40 Odd miles away. So it’s an 80 miles round trip. I was so keen, and then I had to write a proposal. I wrote a proposal that went to the committee. And then they said, actually, the mental health team like it, the psychologists not so much can you put together a proper business case, including what evidence there is, etc. We have to look after our population, and could you do it for 12 months instead of 12 weeks?
So I ended up writing a business case for a 12 month project didn’t know what a business case was either. And I ended up writing a business case for a 12 month project. I I was friends or I’m friends with Jack Pransky who wrote Somebody Should Have Told Us and I told him about it and he said Jacqueline, do you want to put yourself on the map? And I said, I don’t know what you mean. But yeah, that sounds great. And he said, make it a research project. So I was one of the first people to do research in the innate health arena.
Tell us about the work now. It’s quite a few years later, you started in 2015?
Jacqueline: That’s right. Yeah. I started in 2015. And did several years at that prison, worked in the prison next door, which was for high risk offenders, sex offenders, and so on. And then we went to Nottingham, and the violence reduction unit got hold of us. And so we started working with people with knife crime, and so on. And we were spreading.
Then we were meant to do a presentation to the southwest, and roll out the program to 11 Southwest prisons by now. I had nearly three research papers under my belt. So people were starting to take notice. That was in February 2020. I was meant to have this new presentation, and COVID happened, and so that it literally wiped the business. The prisons closed, people were locked up for 23 hours a day, they’re still in some places locked up for 20 hours a day. It’s not good. And, and they just stopped everybody going in.
I went in for a little while to see the vulnerable clients. But we couldn’t run groups anymore. And when we did, eventually, were able to get in, you could only have three people and you get a lot of drop out in groups in prison. And so well, we were allowed five and out of the five, three would turn up. So it wasn’t really good. And so we pivoted the business.
During COVID, we wrote a curriculum with some partners. And we deliver that curriculum to professionals. We also created a distance learning program. I still write for the Inside Times, which is the prison newspaper here. And then they write and say, Can we have a pack and we have a wonderful team of buddies, who write to the guys and girls and talk to them about a night how often insights and so on in a very light touch.
Actually, we might need some more buddies. So if any of the listeners feel like doing this, then they could should just get in touch. Yeah, so we’re always sort of on the lookout for people who want to communicate, and they get a pack, they write back. And it’s quite amazing what you see in those packs that people having realizations and so on.
We work with an addiction, charity, and deal with gambling related problems and harms. I started a mentoring business. So obviously, I trained a lot of people during my time working in prison, because I always felt like I wanted other people to come on that journey with me. And then everyone kept saying, why don’t you run a mentoring practice? Ah, I don’t really do that. The amount of times I’ve said, I don’t really do that. And then I end up doing it.
I run a mentoring business. So I work with clients, I’m particularly attracted to clients who want to change the world who, who want to do social good, and working hard to reach areas. So I do supervision and I do some training. And I write, and yeah, I just have fun.
Alexandra: Very quickly, before we jump into talking about the book, which is the focus of our conversation today;
I want to ask what sort of changes you see in the prisoners that you work with when you introduce the principles to them?
Jacqueline: One of the visitors that I had sitting group with us when we were working in prison, said to him it seemed like he was in a room of philosophers. He forgot that he was in prison. And when you talk to people about the deeper nature of life, and whether that’s the three principles or other spiritual practices or other philosophical practices, when you look at people, and you see their health, and not their crime or their behavior, something magical happens.
There have been transformations, i.e., people who have left prison and completely changed their lives, and so on. And they’re amazing stories, but I just wanted to touch on these, these just very gentle, beautiful things that happen to people that maybe didn’t transform their lives, but they just changed enough to come out and get a job, go straight come out and be with their families.
We talked to people who are from all ends of the spectrum, and people who have done white collar crime and just got caught. Or, people at the other end of the spectrum who have been in a violence, trauma filled life for forever, and everybody get something. And just thinking about that guy, for instance, the trauma, one, John will call him, he was in in that prison, the whole of his time, he had a lot of trauma, and he was attacked one time, and he’d wake up every night and imagine this person with the knife attacking him. He had scars and all sorts.
He used to get himself into trouble in prison, so that he could be put into the segregation unit. And then he could kick off, and he wouldn’t be able to have all the officers calm, and then he would fight all the officers. And they would fight him and that’s how he felt alive when he was in a fracas like that. And that would help him to feel like awake and alive and the rest of time, he just didn’t want to be alive. And you’re in a group with him, and 15 other hairy, scary man, as I like to say. And he’s there saying, I never imagined I could find love in prison.
The men would talk about love. And they would talk and they would cry. And they would talk about, and you’re not allowed to do that in prison. That’s not a good, it’s not a good look, right. But they were talking about their feelings, and they would talk about that they would have been looking at the sunset. It was just amazing to see regardless to what went on afterwards, what they did afterwards, with their lives.
It’s so important for the listeners to know that that’s in everyone. I’ve sat across from really hardcore sex offenders, pedophiles and seeing that light in there and been amazed myself had judgments myself and been amazed at seeing that light come on, and having a person say, I’m never going to get out of prison, but I can make my life worthwhile in prison by helping other people.
And and then of course, there are lovely people who have come out and there’s many of them, Derrick Mason and Omar and Chris and all of those people that I’ve spent spoken at conferences and so and, and I love them to bits. But I feel like sometimes the normal people get forgotten that. The ones that actually, at the heart of the day, they showed their spiritual essence and it was beautiful.
Alexandra: Oh, that’s so lovely. Thank you for sharing that.
I think that’s such an important point that success can look so different. There’s so many ways that that can look.
Jacqueline: I remember walking around the prison and meeting someone on his forklift and most of the guys used to want to do it again. Going to come back again this and they wanted to do the program’s a lot. And parts of why they were so transformed and so enjoying it is because they felt the unconditional love. And they felt you listening to them?
That’s what they would say they would say, I’ve never been looked at the way that you guys the whole team, not just me, everybody was involved, the way that we all looked at them they’ve never been seen. And just that enough is enough to give people hope, and a glimpse of their own true essence.
I was walking through the grounds and there was someone on a forklift, and I invited him back to group. I said, we’re running another group and he said, You know what, I’m good. I’m good. I’m getting my forklift license. I realize it’s me. I realize I’ve been doing this to myself my whole life. So I don’t need anything else. So there were those people they got it. Got it. And they went on with their lives. And, and they’re just as important.
Alexandra: That’s so great. I’m so pleased to hear that.
Okay. So let’s do a little pivot. Same subject, though. You’ve just launched a Kickstarter about to support the release of your new book, which is called Wing of an Angel.
Tell us about writing the book and what motivated you.
Jacqueline: It is a book of my heart. I never considered myself a writer, there’s another thing on my list of things I thought I’d never do. So I never considered myself a writer. In fact, I thought I was rubbish at writing. I never planned to write a book. Never even wanted to; it wasn’t on my bucket list.
But in prison, the technology’s non-existant basically. And so when I came home, I used to write my notes. I ended up with boxes and boxes of notes, because first of all, I was doing a research project. So I wanted to capture all the essence of what the people have been saying. And second of all, it just relived it for me, so I would write notes. I would draw the pictures of what we put on the board and just for my own pleasure, really, and potentially, to use in the research.
I’ve been very lucky, pre COVID I’ve spoken at many conferences around the world, on this subject, and, and people kept saying, when are you going to write your book? I was like, never. But I have a friend who’s an author, and she said, You really should write your book.
Eventually, there is a great serendipity. I don’t know if you know about the Jewish faith, but in the Jewish faith, there’s a word called Hashkafa. And it means divine intervention. So we tell our hashkafa story, it’s about divine intervention. So this author friend kept saying you should write a book, write a book. Ah, yeah. And yeah, maybe one day and she came to visit us in December 18. And said I am going on a retreat, a writer’s retreat on a barge close by to you. Would you like to come?
It sounded like the worst thing in the world. I was like, There’s no way I am going to be on a barge. We have loads of strangers writing and then you have to read writing that. But of course, what kept happening was writing retreats kept occurring, coming up on Facebook, or in a newsletter. I was saying what on earth is going on? A friend wrote to me and said, This person called Jules Swales, she’s starting writing classes. And I think you’d like her. I don’t know. I’m not I’m not a writer.
So then someone else said to me, oh, have you heard of Jules Swales? And then, I discovered that Jules Swales had done Dicken Bettinger’s Heal the World program. So she was in the 3 principles. And she also had been at a conference where I had spoken and I’d read a letter from one of the men in prison, who is Angel from the book. And she had been at that conference.
So I thought, well, that’s interesting, because she’ll get me. And then also turned out that her ex-partner had been incarcerated. So she knew about being so I was like, Okay universe, I hear you. I’m good. I’m on it. I jumped on her writing class, and we’ve become good friends. And she came along to my home. She was on a visit over from the States, she lives in states, and she came back, and now she lives here. But anyway, she came, and I said, people kept telling me to write a book, and I have these boxes of notes like, is that a book?
She was very kind, and said, turn that into a book. She didn’t tell me what it would be like. This was in January, December 2020. And that’s how long it’s taken me to write the book. Because it was just a box of notes. So then there’s a whole load of stuff to be done, create the story, the arc of the story, learn how to write properly, etc.
Wing of an Angel was written over four years, sometimes not at all, sometimes just, I can’t do it anymore. It’s going in the drawer. It’s had many revisions, it’s had many titles. And eventually, in 2020, the end of 2020. So that’s a couple of years of having a little go at it. I thought it was for a day. And then one of the protagonists said I don’t want to be in it. And I just thought, Okay, well, I have to publish it when I’m dead. Because I can’t take him out. So it went back in the drawer for a few months.
And then I was in a supermarket. And Angel, who is the protagonist in the book, spoke to me and said, You have to tell my story. And it was so loud. I just put my shopping down and went home and wrote a story from when he was five years old. It gives me shivers. I wrote Angel’s story, and then it just kept coming. And then angel would just tell me, oh, I need a chapter there. I need a chapter there. And so on. So I rewrote the thing. I took out everybody. I mentioned other people, but very vaguely. And that was the last revision.
But that just took me a little while. And I do sometimes say when I write on my blog that I’m the 10 Minute author, because I wrote for 10 minutes every day sometimes, and sometimes half an hour. And I mean right. Sometimes you just haven’t got the time to write but you got to keep the practice.
Can you tell us a little bit about the story?
Jacqueline: Yes. So one of the things that Jules Swales persuaded me when she read maybe the second revision, she said, it’s great. It’s a story of the people that you’ve worked with, and working in the prison system. So one of the readers has said, I never knew that went on in prison. So there’s lots of juicy stuff. And being part of a grassroots organization, and the challenges and the ups and downs and the highs and lows.
She said, but the problem is, you’re not in it. And you need to write yourself into this story. So then I wrote my own story, which is a trauma filled background, I’ve lots of trauma I had complex, PTSD, etc. I didn’t really want to do that. But I realized it was important. So it was important for me to tell my story. Because one of the messages of this book is that anybody can do anything. It doesn’t matter what we’ve been through, and I’ve been through it. And it doesn’t matter, I’m a normal person, I’ve been through a lot of stuff.
I’ve had a lot of struggles, I’m a bit crazy, but I can still do anything. And so can anybody else. And those fears that hold us back, they’re not real. They’re just thought, and they’re just things that we keep. We keep their barriers, but they’re not real barriers. I couldn’t spell. I had lots of difficulties with writing, and you just find ways around it all.
I know men who’ve taught themselves to read in prison with a dictionary so like, we can all do anything. And, and so, so I revised it, I put myself into it. So the story is, it follows the arc of the hero’s journey. So, there’s the story of me and how I got to come to this place, this portal of working in prison, the story of Beyond Recovery, which is the social enterprise that I started, and then the story of the boys and girls that I met and, and the transformations that I saw, and then what happened during COVID. And then what’s happening now.
The hero’s journey never ends. Because as we as we finish one arc we get invited into another, another initiation, don’t we? So it is my story, and Angel’s story, but I feel like there’s an angel in everybody. It’s everybody’s story. And I invite the reader to come with me and be part of the movement that we can do anything.
Alexandra: Yes, I love that. And that ties back into what you said earlier about working with the prisoners that in every single one of us there is that spiritual light, that innate health that never ever, ever goes away. That’s tied so beautifully together.
So you’re launching this on Kickstarter. Tell us about that, if people aren’t familiar. When a project is launched on Kickstarter, there are different rewards. That’s what they call them.
You can support the project at different levels. So tell us about those levels for the listeners.
Jacqueline: A lot of people don’t know about Kickstarter, which I didn’t realize, but one of the reasons I’m doing it this way is to try and cover publishing costs, because they’re rather big. The book is going to be launched anyway. But it would be it would be good if we could cover the publishing costs.
I also have a vision of getting the book into every prison library in the UK, because I think the boys would really enjoy it and the girls and so I love to do that and see if that’s possible.
So when you launch a book on Kickstarter, you have different levels of rewards. The paperback for instance, which is available on Kickstarter now isn’t available to the public. So the only way you can get the book right now is through the Kickstarter project. The paperback is 20 pounds so you pay the 20 pounds and if you pay a little bit more to support the Creator, which is me. And the rewards are there’s and you can just pledge just for fun because you think I’m amazing and so that that’d be great.
There’s also an ebook and then the next level is a paperback then the next level is a hardback now, the hardback isn’t going to be for sale anywhere else in the future. The Kickstarter people; that’s what the hardback is for.
I’m going to a place down the road they’re going to print the hardback. This is a special one. And I’m going to number every one and sign every one. They get a signed version of the hardback. I’m really excited about the hardback. And so there’s that one.
And then there’s a couple of other things like there’s a consultancy with me, where you get hardback, and the consultancy. And I’ll do a consultancy, on anything; on starting working in prison and starting a social enterprise writing whatever running it running a YouTube channel, whatever it is that they want to talk about. The three principles, anything they like. And then there’s a lush reward, which is, this is a this is a retreat, this cottage, here is our retreat. We can’t see that when you’re on podcast, but
Alexandra: On YouTube, yeah, your background.
Jacqueline: Yeah. We’re in the middle of the countryside. And it’s a one floor retreat that is self-contained with a kitchen and a bedroom and everything. And that’s one of the Kickstarter rewards. So people could have two nights here. And if they tied that in with a consultancy, then we would have a walk and talk and so on. So that’s quite an exciting one.
We haven’t quite got there, but I’ll be releasing the stretch goals. And the stretch goals too, when you get to a certain level is to get the book in every prison library. And I would like to create the audio version, as well. So one stretch goal is the to create the audio version. But again there’s a lot of finances to go with that.
It’s been very, a lot of learning. Yeah, I could probably consult on how to do a Kickstarter now as well.
Alexandra: I was just going to say, goodness, me. Wow. Okay. And so if people want to support the project, I love this idea of getting the book into every prison library in the country. That is so great. And I mean, imagine the difference that would make because of course, you and even Beyond Recovery, your enterprise, your reach can only go so far. It’s limited by the number of hours in the day and the number of people who are working with you, but with a book, it could go everywhere. Yeah, that’s so great.
So folks can go to kickstarter.com.
Jacqueline: Yes, yes. And I guess they look for my name. JB hollows,
Alexandra: Or the name of the book: Wing of an Angel. If you search for that, it comes up.
Jacqueline: Yeah. Brilliant. And then if they didn’t want to do that, and they just want to buy the book, and they want to wait, then the book will be released later this year. And it will be on Amazon, on the different countries. And so that’s also a possibility. But I love you to support me on Kickstarter.
Alexandra: And if people aren’t aware, it is really expensive to publish a book. I mean, you’ve got editing costs, and then the production costs and marketing and all that kind of stuff. Cover design.
Jacqueline: Developmental review. It’s a lot.
Alexandra: And then when you bring the audiobook into it, that’s really expensive because of course, narrators are so talented, and they do such good work, but it costs to hire a narrator and that kind of stuff.
For the listeners again, it’s kickstarter.com and then they can just search for Wing of an Angel and they will they will be able to find the project. It’s live right now as this goes out. So this is going out October 18, 2023. And for anyone listening and they can go and have a look.
Jacqueline, it’s been so lovely talking to you. As we come towards the end of our time together anything that we haven’t touched on yet that you’d like to share? It could be about your work or about the book.
Jacqueline: I just want to leave people with a message really, if people want to find out about my work, they can just google me and all my all my stuff comes up. But I’d love to leave people with a message which is it always seems like Well, that’s okay for you. It always seems like people do those things, that’s okay for them people, right? People do this, people do that. And it’s different for me, because I’ve got all these things and reasons why.
One of those problems is manifesting, I couldn’t go and volunteer in a homeless shelter, or I couldn’t go in to my local refugee hostel, and help the women there. But who am I?
I want the listeners to know, we all think that. It, we all think and a lady said to me recently, she wanted to go and have a drumming circle for women in the refugee hostel down the road. They’re kept in terrible conditions. And she just wanted to go and be nice and be helpful. And she actually, and she’s an amazing person. And she actually thought, well who am I to do that.
Obviously, I encouraged her to do that. And she is going to do that. But she thought to herself, and the reason why she came to me is, if Mama J had thought that, then she wouldn’t have gone into prison. And it’s true. I did think it but I did it anyway.
I just want everyone to know that. You don’t have to do something. But if you if it occurs to you, and if you keep getting your heart tugged, then please go do it. Because everybody else is thinking someone else will do it. And they need your life. They need your life. And that’s what you’re being called to do. And it doesn’t have to take over your life, like it took over my life. It can be voluntary, it can be a few hours it can be it can be just being nice to someone who’s on the streets, right? And if you feel called to do it, and you get that to just go do it, and you figure out the rest.
Alexandra: Lovely. Oh, I love that. Thank you for saying that. That’s beautiful. So we’ve mentioned the Kickstarter address. And then Beyond Recovery is the social enterprise that you have. What’s the what’s the web address? There’s beyondrecovery.co.uk.
Jacqueline: Yes. And the mentoring website is JBHollows.co.uk. Like I say, if you Google my name, I’m usually like on the first lesson things I’m famous.
Alexandra: Oh, good. All right. Well, thank you again, so much, Jacqueline. It’s been a real pleasure.
Jacqueline: Thank you.
Alexandra: Take care. Bye bye.