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.
Our volunteers received the following email today from our chair, Jen:
It’s Volunteer Week. I was just listening to Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 and they had a lovely item about a woman who volunteers by providing nursing care to homeless people.
Last week I joined a Zoom meeting with Volunteer Coordinators (standing in for Jane Ryan) hosted by Peterborough Council for Voluntary Services (PCVS) about how best to harness the overwhelming numbers of people stepping up to help during this awful pandemic. We talked about the differences between formal and informal/neighbourliness volunteering. It was a very interesting discussion and hopefully our ideas will be fed back to the local council. Volunteer Week is a great opportunity to recognise what people do and how brilliant it is that people from all walks of life come together to carry out a huge range of diverse roles in our communities. The coronavirus crisis has really drawn attention to the work of volunteers and provided lots of opportunities for both new and existing volunteers – I’m sure many of you will have found ways to help.
Missing our April meeting this year has meant that we have not had an opportunity to recognise the important contribution that you make. So I’m very pleased that Volunteer Week provides the chance to reflect on that. People at the prison will be missing us and it’s at times like this that we need to recognise what you all do and how important it is to continue, even if we don’t really know when that will be.
I hope you are all keeping well and able to take advantage of a slight relaxation of the lockdown rules.
Very best wishes
A new article – Library Assistant – has now been added to our Experiences page.
We have added a link on our COVID-19 page to the latest government compiled Q&A list for friends and family of prisoners.
We have today provided updated contact details for those wishing to get in touch while our Volunteer Coordinator is working from home . You can read the details here.
We’ve added some information and advice about how the coronavirus pandemic might affect your role as a FOPP volunteer. You will find a bold red link near the bottom of the Home page and at the top of our Members Area base page.