Team members from Yellow Ribbon will soon be running a Marathon in support of the Samaritans and mental health. As commented in other recent news items – this has been mental health awareness week, and here at Yellow Ribbon mental health something we take very seriously. So much so, we felt we should help to support it more widely. Why?? Well, its a shocking fact, but the national office of statistics reports that male prisoners are around 4 times more likely to take their own life whilst in custody than national average. Self harm, depression and anxiety are still massive problems within the prison system (especially now under the current Coronavirus regime). For many these problems do not just go away when they walk through the gate. Their problems are really only just beginning when they re-enter society due to negative public perceptions, difficulties in finding work, securing housing, building trust and support networks and generally in adjusting to what is now a very different world. Here at Yellow Ribbon one of our most fundamental goals is building hope, providing support, and saving lives. It is what we do, day in, day out. And there is always some hope to […]
An interview with Andy Partridge – Head of Operations at Yellow Ribbon There can be no downplaying the impact that the Coronavirus has had on everyone the world over right now. The news is often filled with reports of how peoples lives, their businesses and ways of working have been massively impacted by the restrictions needed to help control spread of the pandemic. I asked have asked Andy Partridge, Head of operations here at Yellow Ribbon a few questions to give a little insight into the challenges and changes we have faced during this period. ‘From your perspective as Head of operations Andy, what has been the biggest challenge of Covid-19 for the charity?‘ “No eye contact with clients has been the biggest challenge. You get so much out of a conversation with eye contact and being able to read body language.” And from conversations with other team members and keyworkers this has been a point which has been echoed frequently. Our mentoring system involves working closely with the clients. Building trust and improving their levels of confidence in honest communication is a vital part of the recovery and support process. Although we have worked hard to remain in close […]
Due to the recent change in guidelines from the government around Coronavirus, Meeting Point House where our main office is located is closed. Yellow Ribbon is however still continuing to accept referrals, Currently we ask that referrals and information requests are sent to us via email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or using the contact form from the front page of the site. We have put into place a series of contingency plans to ensure that ensure that we continue providing ongoing support to our clients with all of our usual services, and additionally are ready to assist those who may need to self-isolate within the client-houses. All normally office based administration work continues as usual via the remote-working systems we have already put in place, and the team remain in close contact via video-link, voice comms and secure messaging technology. We shall be extending the roll-out of video-link technology to all of our client houses in the next few days, which will allow us to conduct our usual house meetings and service user support in as close to our usual way as possible. Most of the usual ancillary support services such as support from the local food banks remain in place, […]
We have some exciting news about a new project working with our Partners at TACT in Wellington. We will be converting an old garage into an workshop and facilities room and operate all of our projects from there. We are excited to be working closer with TACT as we are both in the business to aid our service users in there recovery and can lean on each other to do just that. Telford After Care Team (TACT) C.I.C. was founded in 2012 by Robert Eyers who himself endured 20 years of addiction. During his recovery Rob became aware of the lack of support available for service users in Telford like himself. Rob set up TACT initially on a voluntary basis with a small amount of funding to help run a SMART Recovery Group and a Gardening Group. This provided people in recovery an option to do something new and prevent them from returning to their old lives. The main aim of TACT is to assist people in recovery from using drugs or alcohol. This is achieved by improving the health and welbeing of its service users; empowering people to lead productive and fulfilling lives so that they can once again be valued members […]
A number of the client-volunteers have spent the last few weeks working on a refurbishment project here at Meeting Point House. Some of the meeting rooms were in dire need of some redecoration and refurbishment. So, lead by our projects manager a team of our client-volunteers have systematically redecorated and refubished a number of the rooms throughout the building. One of the guys involved in the project commented : “We have learned a lot from this project, it has given us the opportunity to learn new skills and to do something useful for our community” YR client For a number of those who worked on this project the new skills gained along with the valuable relevant recent work experience all counts towards their CV, and will hopefully go on to help them gain employment. Staff at Meeting Point House comment that they are delighted with the project outcomes and are keen to use the services of our projects team in the future.
We are currently looking for someone to join the team in the role of a Housing Support Worker Part-time role working 30 hours a week flexible between Monday to Friday. Being a Housing Support Worker at Yellow Ribbon is sometimes demanding but always hugely rewarding for those with the passion, drive and commitment to improve the lives of people with complex personal challenges The primary role will be to directly support our clients in our various housing projects. You will work with them to help them live happy and fulfilled lives that are as independent as possible. You will support them to develop positive relationships and become an equal and valued member of their local community. Find out more and apply online here
Lord, you offer freedom to all people. We pray for those in prison. Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist. Support with your love prisoners and their families and friends, prison staff and all who care. Heal those who have been wounded by the actions of others, especially the victims of crime. Help us to forgive one another, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with Christ in his strength and in his Spirit, now and every day. Amen All at Yellow Ribbon will be joining others this week in prayer and thought for those in prison, their families and those affected by the wider aspects of crime as part of the Prisons Week God’s will and intention for all his people is freedom – the freedom to be the people he created them to be. As Prison Chaplains we work with people who often find it hard to believe that God has any interest in them or their lives. They struggle with the concept that they are made in the image of God and do not dare to hope that they may have a future in God which does not involve crime, arrest and imprisonment. […]
As some aspects of lockdown are relaxed – an update on our position at YR As of next week (06/07/2020) Meeting point house where our offices are based will be opening for some levels of access. At this time however it will not be possible to return to a fully normal regime as far as either office occupancy or non-staff access is concerned. Clients and those seeking an interview for consideration / induction will have access only by prior appointment, and we shall be operating a minimal staff presence in keeping with the guidelines as published on the .Gov website. Primary contact will remain via email – email@example.com or using the contact form on the main page. Telephone calls will continue to go initially to voicemail, and we will contact you asap. For the purposes of staff returning to the office, and for clients / visitors, in keeping with government guidelines we have published the following Risk Assessment which describes our analysis of the risks and steps taken to reduce them which we have put in place to control Covid-19 transmission within our offices. Risk Assessment.pdf As the situation changes we will post further updates.
This week (18th – 24th May) is “Mental Health Week”. [Edit:: Link to documents updated 21/05/2020 – NewsDesk] Many of our clients leave prison with some issues of depression or anxiety, and the extended period of lockdown and social isolation has been a difficult time for them. We have published various updates and mental health support info over the last few weeks, specifically in relation to the negative effects on mental health and overall wellbeing that coronavirus and the enforced lockdown brings. It is one of our daily briefing main topics. And we have reported our increased the frequency of welfare calls and use video links to our client houses when we can to help with improved face to face contact. Mental health and client wellbeing during this period has been of paramount importance to us, and probably our single biggest challenge during Covid-19. So, we are pleased to note this week that to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, Shropshire Council’s public health team has created a mental health resources guide to help support people’s mental health and wellbeing, through the coronavirus situation, which we will be making available to any of our clients who would find it useful. […]
As we have mentioned in several news items, there are plans to release early some prisoners who are near to the end of their sentence to assist in reducing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the prison system. To date there has been a very limited number of prisoners who have actually been released under this scheme, and this is perhaps due to in part to the fairly complex criteria involved in assessing those eligible for release. Pact (the Prison Advice and Care Trust) – a charity that provides support to prisoners, people with convictions, and their families. has published a fairly comprehensive outline of the criteria for ECTR which answers the following questions: Are people in prison being released early? Who cannot be released early? Who can be released early? What about the release of children and young people? Is there anything else to consider? Who decides who might be suitable for release? If a prisoner meets all these standards, do they get automatically released? How will prisoners find out about their release? Is End of Custody Temporary Release (ECTR) the same across all prisons? What are the conditions of End of Custody Temporary Release (ECTR)? How will […]
Inside time the prison magazine reports : With prisoners across the UK locked up in their cells, a lot of books will be read. And one book, in particular, is proving popular – because prisons are bulk-buying it to hand out free on the wings. Unconscious Incarceration is a self-help book that encourages the reader to examine their selfish habits, make a change and turn their life around. inside time : https://insidetime.org/self-help-book-handed-out-in-jails/ The book itself is based on the Dickens book A Christmas Carol, and features a heroin addict who receives three visitors who force him to stop and re-examine his past life, and to look at building a new brighter future for himself. We are sure that there will be inmates who perhaps do take the message this book hold to heart, and will draw from it to start taking the positive steps needed to turn their lives around. We know this to be the case, because those are the people we help every single day here at YR. People who want to turn their lives around, people who understand how their lives have gone wrong and want to begin to do something positive.
The team here at Yellow Ribbon have been working hard to ensure that we maintain a high level of support for our clients during the Covid-19 Lockdown period. Our latest response to the challenge has been the re-purposing of donated out-dated IT equipment to bring high-quality video calling to our houses. Many of us have grown used to the idea of video calls and remote working as part of our daily lives now, and over the last few weeks the IT department here at YR have been working to roll out our own secure version of this technology to our client houses. We at Yellow Ribbon are very conscious of the effect we have on our world through over consumption and hate things going to waste. We believe very much in recycling, reuse and re-purposing of as many things as possible and IT equipment is no exception. We have been working on developing a method of using some of the older (obsolete windows 7 spec) laptops which we have had donated as a secure video conferencing platform which allows the team here to make frequent calls to the houses to ensure client wellbeing and to make sure that social distancing […]
People often ask how they can help Yellow Ribbon with our work, and the answer is that really there are a number of ways. We list just a few in our ‘Get Involved‘ section. But right now what we are really short of is: Bath towels Single and double bedding (Any plain colours would be ideal) If you have any that you can donate please drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org We can arrange collection as our offices are currently closed due to the lockdown. If you are in a position to offer us food parcels or have any left over produce that would go to waste the guys in our houses would certainly welcome them. For most of the guys we support there will be a number of weeks between their leaving prison and first payment of any benefits. Many leave prison with nothing. The smallest things mean so much to them. We would also welcome donations of: Tidy mens clothing and shoes. Toiletries etc. Mobile phones (working with charger) – essential to stay in touch with us and probation services etc Old Laptops (as long as working with charger – we can re-purpose for education / training courses […]
The UK prison population has fallen by at least 3,700 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, due to courts being closed and police making fewer arrests. Recently published official figure show a reduction of nearly 4000 people currently held in UK prisons. This figure however is down to the reduction of arrests and court closures rather than being as a result of the previously announced early release schemes put in place to combat the current coronavirus situation. Explaining the reduction in prison numbers, Lord Keen (Ministry of Justice spokesman in the House of Lords), commented in debate on April 23: “There has been a fall in the prison population due to the upstream changes in law enforcement and court activity.” In fact at the time of reviewing the figure for this article only 30 people have been released early from prisons under the early release scheme. This is a far cry from the 4000 that was previously stated would be the target figure. Reports from within our local prisons paint a grim picture of current prison life under the lockdown conditions right now, and an early release for those who we are due to work with in the community […]
It has been reported that there will be an increase to the “Discharge Grant” given to prisoners upon release. Lucy Frazer QC MP indicated in answers to the Commons Justice Committee that prisoners being released early due to the current Coronavirus situation will receive £80 rather than the usual £46. It was also indicated that those who met the criteria for early release may also be issued with a mobile phone to allow them to remain in contact with their offender managers, and also to claim universal credit via a telephone hotline. However, speaking on April 14th, fully ten days after the government announced the scheme, Frazer indicated that up to that point only four prisoners had actually benefited from this. It is expected however that more releases will be taking place over the next few weeks.
A second death attributed to Coronavirus at HMP Littlehey confirms that prisons with an older population are at significant risk. The BBC news site today confirms a third prisoner death, with two of those three deaths at the same prison – HMP Littlehey in Cambridge. Although the deaths are indicated as being in older inmates – described as having underlying health problems, it is clear that with figures from several days back showing 65 inmates had tested positive, that coronavirus can find its way pretty much everywhere. Lawyer Simon Creighton, who has inmates among his clients, told BBC Newsnight that prison was a very unsafe environment: “If you think about how cruise ships have been seen as Petri dishes, prisons are about 1,000 times worse,” he said on Wednesday. “Some of the contact I’ve had with prisoners over the last week has been terrifying.” BBC : https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-52137109 And Chair of the Prison Officers Association – Mark Fairhurst says that the virus : “does not discriminate”. And goes on to say: “The two deaths at Littlehey demonstrate that an ageing prison population that have underlying health conditions are more at risk,” BBC : https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-52137109 This is indeed a worrying situation – […]
You might be worried about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it could affect your life. This may include having to stay at home and avoid other people. This might feel difficult or stressful. But there are lots of things you can try that could help your wellbeing. Mind, the mental health charity has updated their guide to coping with the added stress of having to self-isolate and follow social distancing. It features a range of advice – much of which applies to us all, but with specific additional advice for those who suffer from anxiety or depression. As ever, Yellow Ribbon keyworkers and counsellors are ready to help and support our clients and although subject to some new challenges in how we do this, are always there if help is needed.
Inmates could be freed to ease virus pressure on jails BBC news is reporting that “The government is considering releasing some offenders from prisons in England and Wales to ease pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” BBC News – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52029581 And goes on to say : Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the virus poses an “acute” risk in prisons, many of which are overcrowded. Some 3,500 prison staff – about 10% of the workforce – were off work on Tuesday because they were ill or self-isolating, a committee of MPs was told. Mr Buckland said releasing some inmates could help to “alleviate” pressures. The justice secretary told the Commons justice committee he was “keen” to make use of release on temporary licence – where prisoners are let out for short periods, after a risk assessment. BBC News – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52029581 Yellow Ribbon will be working closely with resettlement teams and the probation service to assist with finding accommodation and support for as many new client releases as we can.
ITV news reports that Prisons in England and Wales on ‘immediate lockdown’ following latest coronavirus measures. The report comments : “Prisons in England and Wales have been put on “immediate lockdown” with all visits cancelled. The Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service said the measure was to “ensure the safe and secure functioning of our prisons, while enforcing social distancing.” It follows the Government’s strengthening of stay-at-home measures, announced in an address to the nation by the Prime Minister on Monday night. HMP Birmingham, HMP High Down, HMP Manchester, and HMP Oakwood all have one confirmed case of coronavirus.” ITV News Both HMP Birmingham and HMP Oakwood are two of frequently visited prisons as part of our chaplaincy and through-the-gate schemes. It present it is unclear exactly what the full implications of this will be, but we at Yellow Ribbon have a series of contingency plans ready to put into place to ensure we continue to support those still in prison, those being released, and the clients we have in our community based houses – in whatever way we can which meets the current government guidelines.
Today Inside Time – the magazine for prisoners and their families reports that at present prisons will stick with normal regimes as long as possible. Inside Time published an article today which comments : “Jails will stick with normal regimes and visits “for as long as possible” in the face of the coronavirus epidemic, the Government has said. Prisons Minister Lucy Frazer QC MP said there was “a huge amount of work taking place” to plan for the impact of COVID-19. She said the top priority was the safety and wellbeing of staff, prisoners and visitors. The attempt to carry on as normal comes despite fears that prisons will be badly hit by the disease. Andrea Albutt, president of the Prison Governors’ Association, said it was likely that some prisoners would die.” Inside Time – https://insidetime.org/coronavirus-prisons-try-to-maintain-regimes/ The article goes on to quote a statement made by Lucy Frazer MP on March 12th : ” Prisons have existing, well-developed policies and procedures in place to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases. This means prisons are well prepared to take immediate action whenever cases or suspected cases are identified, including isolating individuals where necessary. Basic hygiene is a key part of tackling the […]
Going Forward into Employment (GFiE) is a government wide scheme aimed at providing life chances people through the provision of opportunities in the civil service. A new gov.uk based blog site has started today, dedicated to increasing both awareness of the problems faced by ex-offenders upon release, and to help some of them into employment through civil service posts. The site gives a stark insight into just how few people go on to find employment : “Imagine leaving prison, determined to get a job and support yourself and your family, only to find that almost every job application asks about your criminal record. You keep applying, but you keep getting rejected – if you hear back at all. This is the all too familiar story of the 70,000 people released from prison every year. Just 17% of them are in PAYE employment after 12 months.” GFiE blog – https://gfie.blog.gov.uk/ And the site goes on to say : “It’s not easy for employers to make changes either, which is why it’s so important that the public sector sets a good example. The Going Forward into Employment scheme improves life chances for people leaving prison, as well as veterans and their spouses, […]
Inside Time the prison magazine today reports that people on probation are no longer to be called “offenders” In an article posted today on the Inside Time website, it is reported that : “Probation chiefs said they wanted to “reset the language” and use a term that would “resonate” with those under supervision. Instead of being known as an offender, anyone under supervision will be referred to as a “person subject to probation services”. The change reflects the fact that people on probation are expected to have stopped committing crimes. It will affect ex-prisoners on licence and people given community sentences for low-level crimes.” Inside Time – https://insidetime.org/former-prisoners-no-longer-offenders/ We at Yellow Ribbon will certainly welcome this shift in attitude, because we firmly believe that labelling someone as on offender is unfair, and does little to help them move forward in their life. We are committed to helping those who are ready to turn their life around, and the first step in that process is leaving behind the personal perception of criminality, to view yourself not as who you were – but who you want to be now.
Despite the very uncertain future of the Riverside Shopping Centre, it was decided to give the cafe a facelift and a new lease of life while the centre remains open. A number of the client-volunteers were involved in the redecoration project, which involved a range of skill-areas including carpentry, plastering, painting, wallpapering and basic electrical installations. A number of the clients now work in the cafe which sells barista-made coffees and other hot drinks, light meals, cakes and a variety of home-produced products. Several new clients have recently earned their Basic Food Hygiene certificates, allowing them to work in the food preparation areas.
Christmas is a special time of year, and here at Yellow Ribbon we try to make sure that it is special for our clients too. As part of the Christmas celebrations here at Yellow Ribbon, staff distributed gifts and Christmas food hampers to the clients, as for some, these might be the only gifts they received this year. Both staff and clients then walked over the road to our local bowling alley where we enjoyed a two-game match and a burger and chips meal. Many clients commented “Just how good it was to share this time together, and how much it meant to them to be remebered at Christmas” Wishing all our staff, clients and our partner support agencies “A very merry Christmas, and a safe and prosperous new year in 2020”