A former student at The University of Nottingham has made it in to Time magazine’s list of ‘30 People Under 30 Changing the World’.
Alexander McLean, 28, is the founder of the African Prison Project (APP), which he started whilst studying Law at University. After he spent time in Uganda he was struck by the poor living conditions of inmates and developed a charity to improve facilities.
The APP develop high quality, low cost health, education and sanitation infrastructure for replication in prisons across Africa, as well as health, education and legal training materials for prisoners and prison staff.
To date, APP has renovated clinics, built libraries and developed educational programmes in prisons throughout Uganda and also with the Kenyan and Nigerian Prisons Services and they have plans to expand their work, including to South Sudan.
APP’s focus is on identifying, developing and equipping change makers amongst prisoners and prison staff. This is done by giving prisoners opportunities to gain diplomas and degrees in law by distance learning and providing scholarships for master’s degrees at British universities for prison staff, and organising prison staff exchange programmes.
The charity's highlights of 2013 include — several of APP’s law students having death sentences overturned; APP’s inaugural team of prison officers from Kenya spending time in British prisons on secondments; and prison officers from Kenya and Nigeria studying for master’s degrees at universities in London and Oxford.
The coveted and prestigious Time list is put together by a panel working with Time editors to select young digital moguls, health pioneers and teachers from around the globe.
Alexander said of his achievement: “It’s an exciting piece of recognition for the work that I’ve been doing over the last 10 years — trying to bring dignity and hope to people in prison in Africa. It’s also exciting for us as a team of people who are passionate about penal reform and it has been wonderful to work with a great group of staff, volunteers and partners during this time — including The University of Nottingham, as well as many others.
“I think penal reform can sometimes be overlooked and people in prisons in Africa, are some of the most vulnerable you can imagine, and so the importance of being placed on this list is recognition from the world about the challenges that these people face. It is also recognition of our focus as an organisation in the last couple of years, which has been how to identify, develop and equip both prisoners and prison staff who have a desire to improve the lives of those around them within prison and when they are released.”
As well as being recognised by Time for his tireless works, which Alexander has often carried in out in dangerous circumstances, he has also won a string of other awards. He was named University of Nottingham Recent Alumnus of the Year in 2007, UK Charity Volunteer of the Year in 2006 and he won the 2007 Beacon Prize Overall Winner (previous winners include Sir Bob Geldof) and the Real World National Graduate of the Year in the same year.
Other accolades include being a 2013 Senior TED Fellow, a finalist in the 2013 Gifted Citizen Award, a Clore Social Leadership Programme Fellow, voted a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, a Lincoln’s Inn Lord Mansfield and Hardwicke Fellow, a Tearfund Inspired Individual and a Vodafone World of Difference Award winner.
For more information on the APP, visit their website www.africanprisons.org