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Golden Thread Transnational Meeting and Train the Trainer Event

During the week of 20-24 November 2023, two important actions of the Golden Thread project Building Family Bonds and Parenting Skills as a Means to Reduce Recidivism in European Prisons –(Erasmus+ KA2 2021-1-PL01-KA220-ADU-AA6C3181) took place at the premises of the Theological School of the Church of Cyprus

On Monday 20 and on Tuesday 21 November 2023, the third Transnational Project Meeting of the Golden Thread -Erasmus KA2 project (2021-1-PL01-KA220-ADU-AA6C3181), was successfully held in the premises of the Theological School of the Church of Cyprus.  

The purpose of the meeting for the first day, was the presentation of the main deliverables of the programme: (a) The T.S.C.C. presented the Family Learning Curriculum for detainees and the pre and post evaluation of the implementation of the curriculum, the TrainersGuide and the Student Handbook. The Athens Lifelong Learning Institute presented the methodology and working framework of the Family Support Group. The Lodz University presented the progress of the state-of-the-art research (qualitative and quantitative data) on the needs of detainees concerning the family relations. Aproximar presented the experience of the implementation of the program in Portugal and FRAME presented the evaluation of the training.  

During the second day, emphasis was placed on the planning and timetables of the programme’s activities, on financial management issues and on the dissemination activities of the programme. Finally, the date of the final conference for the completion of the programme was confirmed, which will take place in Poland in the first half of July 2024.  

The partners enjoyed the hospitality provided by the Theological School of the Church of Cyprus, which included breakfast and lunch at the School’s premises, as well as a social dinner at a restaurant in the centre of Nicosia. 

From the 21st to the 24th of November 2023, the training of the trainers of the European Project “The Golden Thread” took place at the Theological School of the Church of Cyprus. University of Lodz and FRAME from Poland, APROXIMAR from Portugal, Life Long Learning from Athens, and the Theological School of the Church of Cyprus that organised and hosted the event.  A total of 22 people from the above organisations participated in the training. 

The training started in the afternoon of Tuesday 21st of November 2023 and ended on Friday evening, 24th of November 2023. The training started with a welcome by the Director of the TSCC, Rev. Kypriano Kountouri, who also facilitated the ” ice-breaking” and “team-building” activities in the atrium of the school. Participants were engaging with enthusiasm and the main goal, which was to knowing and feeling comfortable with each other was achieved. After the lunch, Professor Olga Solomontos-Kountouris, coordinator of “The Golden Thread” programme in Cyprus, presented the TSCC and introduced the members of the staff, who all contributed for the organisation of the event. Then the role of each organization was presented. The project coordinator Andrzej Kacprzak from the University of Lodz, Ponlad presented the results of research (quantitative and qualitative data) on the needs of detainees in relation to family bonds. Mr Iakovos Stylianou, Director of the school of the Cyprus Prison Department presented the principles of education in prisons, the formal and informal learning, as well as the challenges of prison education. Finally, Rafael Lupson from Aproximar, presented the principles of peer support methodologies 

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On Wednesday, November 22nd, Olga Solomontos-Kountouri, Maria Petridou, Lecturer of Clinical Psychology of TSCC and Louisa Michael, Special Educational Staff of the TSCC, presented the four parts of the Family Learning Curriculum: (a) Social-emotional skills and personal development (5 lessons); (b) Partners’ Relationships (3 lessons); (c) Parenting Skills (10 lessons); and (d) Relationships with Family Members (2 lessons).   For each lesson, participants had the opportunity to learn about the theoretical background, lesson plan, and interactive activities that are part of the courses of the Golden Thread program. After lunch, the participants were offered a guided tour by Rev. Kyprianos Kountouris to the cathedrals of St. John and St. Barnaba. 

 On Thursday, 23rd of November, the participants visited the Cyprus Prison Department. The Director of the Prison Department, Mr. Kapnoulas, welcomed them by presenting the Cyprus Prison. Afterwards, Mr. Iakovos Stylianou presented some of the services of the prison, such as, the dog training, the workshops, the schools, etc. They also had the opportunity to visit the Imprisoned Graves, where Rev Kountouris explained the modern history and the struggles of the Cypriots.   After the visit, the training continued at the TSCC, where Maria Petridou presented the evaluation and implementation procedures of the Golden Thread Family Learning Curriculum. Rafael Lupson presented the experience of implementing the programme in Portugal. Xenophon Halatsis from Athens Life Long Learning presented (a) the methodology for the support group of the prisoner’s family and the methodological – operational framework and the manual for professionals. He continued with an interactive workshop based on practices that could strengthen the support group. Finally, Adam Gogazc, from FRAME presented The Family Learning Workshop – Personal Development, Parenting and Family Bonding.  

On Friday, November 24th, the theoretical background and evidence-based approaches on the family system were presented. Emeritus Professor of School Psychology and Counselling, Angeliki Leontari, presented the topic “Parents as prisoners and the maintenance of parent-child relationships”.  This was followed by a presentation by Emeritus Professor of Developmental Psychology, Elias Bezevengis on “Developmental issues and challenges in late adolescence and early adulthood and their relation to deviant behaviour and delinquency”. Mr. Marios Nikolaou, Social Worker presented the topic “Dealing with domestic violence and the relationship between perpetrators and their children”. Finally, Vasiliki Christodoulou, Lecturer at UCLAN, presented the ‘Role of family bonding in the reintegration of prisoners’.  

This was followed by a general discussion and evaluation of the training. Certificates of attendance were given to all participants. The training of the trainers ended with a festive reception in the premises of TSCC. All the trainees reported that they get the best memories from the training, both for its high quality and for the knowledge and skills acquired, but also for the on-hands practices. They praised the pleasant, cooperative atmosphere, the rich hospitality, the social programme and they expressed their warmest thanks.    

13/10/2022

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The “Theological School of the Church of Cyprus” (TSCC) is a newly established (2015), private, non-profit, Higher Education Institution (HEI), under the auspices of the Archdiocese of the Church of Cyprus. The mission of TSCC is to operate as an established academic, research, educational and spiritual center, which prepares theologically qualified clerics for the Orthodox Church, as well as theologian-educators for secondary education and post-graduates who can serve and improve the psychological well-being of individuals and groups in communities.

TSCC, through its academic and research staff, can be characterized as an expert center for prison education, as it has established a strong involvement and significant contribution to prison education, including education curricula, prevention intervention programs, education materials, teaching methods, research, scientific articles, conferences, training, volunteering in teaching prisoners, memoranda of cooperation, etc. Additionally, students at the master level attend the educational programs in Cyprus Prison and develop their counseling skills to vulnerable individuals as a part of their internship; as well as deliver their master dissertations in prison psycho-educational approaches. Previous and current prison projects of TSCC (ELMIP, CUP, SEMELI) offer training on basic, soft, technical, and media literacy skills. The “Golden Thread”, complements the previous projects by enhancing the detainee’s ability to provide appropriate and positive parenting and establish solid family relationships. Dr. Olga Solomontos-Kountouri, who has found a line of research and developed evidence-based psychoeducational programs for detainees, together with Dr. Maria Petridou and Mrs. Louiza Michael, who are experts in the field of Counselling and Psychology, will have a significant contribution in prison family education, and help for the successful completion of “The Golden Thread”. On the other hand, the program extends the expertise of TSCC to develop and implement high-quality, innovative psychoeducational programs to detainees in Cyprus and other European prisons. Moreover, “The Golden Thread” consortium has multidisciplinary expertise that acts as an excellent peer learning environment.

TSCC, through its academic and research staff, can be characterized as an expert center for prison education, as it has established a strong involvement and significant contribution to prison education, including education curricula, prevention intervention programs, education materials, teaching methods, research, scientific articles, conferences, training, volunteering in teaching prisoners, memoranda of cooperation, etc. Additionally, students at the master level attend the educational programs in Cyprus Prison and develop their counseling skills to vulnerable individuals as a part of their internship; as well as deliver their master dissertations in prison psycho-educational approaches. Previous and current prison projects of TSCC (ELMIP, CUP, SEMELI) offer training on basic, soft, technical, and media literacy skills.

The “Golden Thread”, complements the previous projects by enhancing the detainee’s ability to provide appropriate and positive parenting and establish solid family relationships. Dr. Olga Solomontos-Kountouri, who has found a line of research and developed evidence-based psychoeducational programs for detainees, together with Dr. Maria Petridou and Mrs. Louiza Michael, who are experts in the field of Counselling and Psychology, will have a significant contribution in prison family education, and help for the successful completion of “The Golden Thread”. On the other hand, the program extends the expertise of TSCC to develop and implement high-quality, innovative psychoeducational programs to detainees in Cyprus and other European prisons. Moreover, “The Golden Thread” consortium has multidisciplinary expertise that acts as an excellent peer learning environment.