Coronavirus and FOPP

We will update this page as necessary.

Updated: 15th May 2022.

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 were not to return to their normal roles for over 2 years.

The first tangible sign of the beginning of a return to normality took place on 19th April 2022 when the Tea Bar in the Visitor Centre opened for business for the first time in almost 25 months.

On May 11th 2022 virtually all COVID-19 restrictions inside the prison were removed, paving the way for a  phased return of volunteers to the secure areas of the prison.

How We Reacted To The Pandemic.

FOPP directors successfully applied to have their two paid employees (Tea Bar Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator) included on the furlough scheme.  The Tea Bar  remained closed from the beginning of the pandemic, but after a while, as permitted under the furlough scheme, our Volunteer Coordinator (Jane) was able to resume work part time from home (and briefly from her office later in 2020).  Further national restrictions in January 2021 meant working only from home again, but from August 2021, and with the end of the furlough scheme approaching, Jane once again started going back into her office in the prison, dividing her working time between the office and home on a flexible basis.   Jane was kept 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. 

In mid-December 2021, in line with government guidance in light of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 spreading rapidly through the UK, the directors instructed Jane to work only from home.  This restriction was lifted in mid-January 2022 and Jane began working on a hybrid basis from home and from the office.  In May 2022 Jane began working regularly two days a week in the office and one day from home.  The method of contact may still be somewhat restricted.  Details are shown on our Contact Us page.

The directors continued to hold their regular bi-monthly management meetings, albeit over Zoom, rather than the usual face to face sessions.  Risk Assessments were completed ready for the resumption of their roles within the prison in the libraries and education departments.  Our Risk Assessments were made available to volunteers by publishing them on the Reports page of our Members’ Area.

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.

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