We will update this page as necessary.
Update: 25th June 2021.
We are very sorry to report that our Tea Bar Assistant, Mary, (mentioned below) died on 30th May 2021. Her funeral took place today, as reported on our Public News page here.
The coronavirus pandemic first affected FOPP on 17th March 2020, when the directors decided, as a precaution, to postpone a planned tour of the prison scheduled for that week. A couple of days later, they decided to suspend all volunteering activity within the prison after 21st March until further notice. The following week the government announced the first national lockdown, so any decisions about our volunteers going into the prison were taken out of our hands. Our volunteers have not yet been able to return to their normal roles.
FOPP directors successfully applied to have their two paid employees (Tea Bar Assistant, Mary, and Volunteer Coordinator, Jane,) included on the furlough scheme. The Tea Bar has remained closed, so our Tea Bar Assistant has not been at work for well over a year now. After a while, as permitted under the furlough scheme, our Volunteer Coordinator was able to resume work part time from home (and briefly from her office later in 2020). Jane has been busy dealing with new enquiries from potential volunteers, arranging for existing volunteers to have their security clearance updated, liaising with the various prison departments and keeping in regular contact with volunteers by email and Zoom to boost morale and keep us up to date with developments within the prison, especially those that might be of particular interest or concern.
The directors have continued to hold their regular bi-monthly management meetings, albeit over Zoom, rather than the usual face to face sessions. We are in close contact with the prison management to discuss our return to our normal activities within the prison. Our priority now is to conduct risk assessments for our staff and volunteers when they do return to the various parts of the prison, and to agree on appropriate safety protocols. Some of the risk assessments have been completed, others are ongoing.
We have tried to keep this website up to date, including a timeline of events as they have affected the prison, based on official announcements that have appeared on the Sodexo prison website. You can see those details on our Lockdown In Prison page.