The pandemic has impacted us all in one way or another. HMP Erlestoke prisoners are no exception. Since March 2020, they have been locked up for long periods with many having only 90 minutes a day outside of their cells.
Access to education, offender behaviour programmes and work opportunities have been severely limited. Visits from families were stopped for several months and even now, are permitted only under strict conditions. Arguably, prisoners have been doubly punished because of Covid-19, particularly as there are now reports of significant deterioration in prisoner mental and physical well-being, both of which are likely to impact rehabilitation work within the prison.
Prior to the pandemic, the Friends of Erlestoke Prison were funding programmes to support that rehabilitation work. Sadly, these ceased to operate in March 2020 to mitigate against the Covid-19 risk. However, the Friends have since focused their resources on fundraising for and planning the build of Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) in the prison. The Friends think that this project is even more relevant now than before Covid-19 because of the impact of lockdown on prisoner health and mental well-being. There is universal awareness of the benefits that sport, teamwork, fresh air and exercise can bring. However, there is also recognition that sport can contribute to efforts to reduce violence in prison and reoffending on release, often through opportunities for education and employment linked to sport.
At some point, most prisoners will be released from prison and will rejoin our communities. Prison offers opportunities to change behaviour and break old habits. The MUGA will be one of those opportunities and will contribute to the development of employable men who are able to support themselves and their families without reoffending.
The Friends continue to fundraise for the MUGA. If you would like to help make this a reality and positively impact the lives of the men in HMP Erlestoke, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/friendsoferlestokepriso... to make a donation, which will be greatly appreciated.
For more information about the Friends, please visit www.friendsoferlestokeprison.com