Today, volunteers have received an email from our Chair of Directors, Jen, which reads as follows:
I hope you’ve had a good summer, even if it has been limited by coronavirus.
I am disappointed to tell you that the other FOPP directors and I have decided to cancel the annual meeting due to be held on 13th October. You are probably not surprised by this, but it is a shame that we are still not able to meet up. Government guidance still discourages/prohibits gatherings of large groups, unless it is necessary for work, voluntary or charitable services, and I do not think that we can argue that the meeting is necessary. In any case, I think there would be practical difficulties in holding it. I will, however, send something round giving you a round-up of the year – it might be quite short as half of that year has been in lockdown. Having said that, things have been going on, which I will be pleased to update you on.
As I hope you know, I regard FOPP as an organisation made up of all of you. We would not exist without you and your willingness to give up your time for people who often have very little. I know we’ve not been able to do this for the last 6 months, but I much appreciate your continued support and interest. I’m sure lockdown has not been easy for you, but we know that it will probably have been much harder for the residents of HMP Peterborough.
It is so difficult to say when we will be able to return and how that return will be managed to reduce risk to volunteers, residents and staff. However, I do feel confident that it will happen and that the Director, Damian Evans, wants it to happen.
I will put more information in my report, but for the time being keep well and stay safe.
Very best wishes,
Those eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that we have moved our website over to a secure server (https://foppweb.co.uk). This means that visitors to our site should no longer get warnings from their browser about the connection not being secure. It should not impact on your browsing experience in any other way.
An announcement today on the HMP Peterborough website gives details of the new Purple Visits scheme (video calls) that are being introduced this week.
The Director of HMP Peterborough has announced that social visits to residents will resume from Monday 27th July 2020. There will necessarily be some restrictions in place, and stringent measures will be taken to protect the safety of residents, staff and visitors. You can see the announcement here. Further details about the changes in place can be found here.
Phil Copple, the Director General of Prisons, has published a Notice to Families, giving further details of how he hopes the lockdown in prisons can begin to be eased. You can read the document on our Lockdown in Prison page.
Today (15th June 2020) the Director of HMP Peterborough, Damian Evans, has posted an open letter on the prison website to the Friends and Families of residents currently detained there. It outlines some of the plans for easing the lockdown and reinstating family visits, and explains what measures are currently in place to look after residents during lockdown. You can read the letter here.
We have also updated our Lockdown page accordingly.
Our website has been updated today with a slight reorganisation of the COVID-19 section. It allows us to bring together all relevant information about the effect of COVID-19 on the activites of FOPP and the operation of the prison regime. We have included the latest governent guidance on how the lockdown in prisons will eventually be eased.
Before this awful pandemic hit us, I was going out of the house nearly every day for one reason or another, but the highlight of my week was Wednesday mornings – despite having to get up at 6 am. This is quite early for me these days – I used to do it every weekday when I was working in Cambridge but now only Wednesdays. I really enjoyed going into the prison to help in an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class. It’s quite varied, but mainly it’s about giving some one-to-one support to learners and encouraging them in their learning of English. It’s certainly made me realise how complicated the English language is, and sometimes I struggle to explain things, but the teacher is always on hand and has a real knack for explaining the grammar.
I’m very much hoping we will be able to get back to our volunteering activities soon – I’m going to write again to Damian Evans (the director at HMP Peterborough) and see when he thinks it may be possible for certain activities to resume.
I really miss going into the ESOL class – I miss talking to the really great teacher and I miss the learners. It’s a studious class and the majority of people are keen to learn, but we often have a laugh as well. I’ve been told by the teacher that she is taking packs of work to the learners so that they can continue with their learning during this very difficult time in the prison. She takes the packs to their cells and is able to wave to them but that’s about it. The change in regime must be taking its toll on everyone at the prison and I really can’t imagine how hard it must be.
One of my other activities was that I used to go swimming twice a week at the local pool in Whittlesey – it’s a very nice pool too – and I’m really missing this as well. I think I will have to allow quite a bit longer to do my fifty lengths, when the pool eventually opens again!
I listen to the radio quite a bit and often you hear little stories about what people have been doing in lockdown. I wish I could tell you that I’d re-read Jane Eyre or other such classics, but I don’t seem to have found the time! I have been enjoying our garden – it makes such a difference to be able to spend time outdoors. I’m also very lucky to live with my husband Alan – mind you I’m not sure how he feels, as before all this he used to have the house to himself for large parts of the week!
Jen – FOPP Volunteer and Director.
We are delighted that Hilary has written a description of what it’s like to help in the FOPP Tea Bar. Hilary is one of our most experienced volunteers, so this article is all the more special.
A new message has been posted today on HMP Peterborough website giving information about the planning taking place to enable prison social visits to resume. You can view the message here.