Coronavirus & Mental Health Week

Coronavirus & Mental Health Week

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. […]

Yellow Ribbon and Covid-19

Yellow Ribbon and Covid-19

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 […]

Self-help book distributed free in prisons.

Self-help book distributed free in prisons.

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. 1+

Yellow Ribbon re-purposes old technology to help clients stay in touch.

Yellow Ribbon re-purposes old technology to help clients stay in touch.

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 […]

Discharge Grant to be raised for early release prisoners

Discharge Grant to be raised for early release prisoners

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. 0

Latest Coronavirus news from within the prison system.

Latest Coronavirus news from within the prison system.

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 – […]

Looking after your mental health while self isolating

Looking after your mental health while self isolating

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. 1+

Closed… But open

Closed… But open

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 ( info@yellow-ribbon.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, […]

Early Release From Prison

Early Release From Prison

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. 0

Prisons in England and Wales on ‘immediate lockdown’

Prisons in England and Wales on ‘immediate lockdown’

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. 1+

Keep Calm – and wash your hands!

Keep Calm – and wash your hands!

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 […]