Our befriending means we visit each guy as regularly as we can to encourage them, helping them to understand the process of release assisting them in corresponding with their Probation Officers and Solicitors. We attend Parole hearings when invited and take them out on their ROTL (Release On Temporary Licence day) and home leaves. We send them gifts of £20 for Christmas and Birthdays and also £10 phone top ups so they can ring us from their wing phones when they need to.
59 have been released and are now in their own flats or houses, and we keep in touch with a weekly text and love to receive their positive replies.
20 still need our care as they transfer from Hostels to either supported living or their own flat and gradually they will become independent. For those who have been in prison for up to 40 years they find outside world is lonely and tough, and need more regular support and visits. Sometimes because of lack of funds this does not happen as often as they or us would like and the men get very disappointed
When prisoners are due to be released, we meet them ‘at the gate’ take them to their Hostels or homes, provide them with toiletries, a simple mobile phone and £10 top up so they can be in contact with us, clothes and footwear from the local Charity Shops and any other items they may require. This can be quite a costly exercise.
Initially they need a lot of support for filling out forms and Peter helps them to try and find their way around the new Universal Credit requirements, we attend Probation meetings with them and try to help them find various Groups to attend like Alcoholics Anonymous. Some like us to help them find a Church and put Safeguarding in place, so initially we need to visit them frequently and phone them often.
In everything we do to encourage these lads, who are battling against all odds, trying to fill their day constructively, missing all their ‘mates’ that were ‘inside’, struggling with loneliness, trying to re-connect with their families, frightened to put a foot wrong, constantly looking over their shoulders, our main aim is to ensure we support them so that they NEVER re-offend again and so far this has been successful!