Donna Marsh's Story
In 2010, Donna was a Mental Health Nurse working in a Maximum Security Prison, where she was responsible for assessing and supporting adults with severe and enduring mental health problems
She travelled to the USA to research why people join street gangs, why they are drawn to this lifestyle, and what keeps them in the gang. Donna looked at the youth justice system in the USA, and compared it to the UK systems of addressing and managing gang issues and youth offending. This enabled Donna to gain a better understanding of gang cultures and the motives for belonging to these groups, so that she could work with gangs more effectively in the UK, to help to reduce reoffending rates.
During her Fellowship, Donna interviewed gang members in their neighbourhoods and visited voluntary organisations, Youth Offending Centres and prisons. She attended the New York Gang Investigators Association conference in New York, where she completed its Basic Gang Specialist Certification course.
Following her Fellowship, Donna secured a job as a Senior Community Mental Health Nurse in a Youth Offending Service. Her Fellowship gave her a better understanding of the challenges that face young people when they are involved in the gang life style and want to leave, and the importance of having a strong role model. Donna also supports the parents of these young people.
Donna gained a qualification in Gang Mediation, which enables her to use the skills and knowledge she learnt in the US. She has also volunteered as a mentor in a prison, supporting young offenders before their release by teaching them about money management, CV writing and interview skills.