I booked a Reception Visit for a new prisoner and as I was explaining the whys and wherefores of prison life, the prisoners Dad broke down in tears and said he was struggling with the thought of his son in prison. I said I would meet him and his family face to face once they had been on their visit so we could spend time discussing how everyone was coping. In the meantime, I reassured him that he could call me whenever he felt he needed support.
He rang a couple of times with quick questions and was happy with just a short phone call but when we met after the Reception Visit, I sat with the family for a couple of hours discussing coping strategies, the grieving process, hopes, feelings and expectations. I calmed and reassured the parents and partner and helped them come to terms with the situation they now found themselves in. They left feeling they weren’t alone and are now more prepared to deal with life as prison visitors.
Mr D is serving a life sentence and was recently transferred to HMP Birmingham from a prison in Northern Ireland. His partner visited him a couple of times in NI but she died several months ago. He has several grandchildren he hasn’t seen for four years and others he has never met. He hasn’t been able to see his family for years but he speaks regularly to everyone on the phone.
His transfer to HMP Birmingham was an ideal opportunity to see his family face to face but when he was talking to officers on his new wing, they told him they didn’t have the ID required to get in. He was devastated. I spoke to him, reassured him that his family could visit and explained what could be done so he could finally meet his grandchildren. I also told him about APVU so his family could get financial assistance to come and visit, and explained about Family Days so his grandchildren could have an extended visit with him. Mr D, lifer, bodybuilder and hard man, cried.