Most of us came into 2021 with a newfound hope and enthusiasm that 2021 would bring back levels of normality and daily life that would allow us to make up for ‘lost time’ from 2020. Unfortunately, that newfound enthusiasm was short lived after our PM announced a new lockdown on January 4th.
Initially, I found the announcement difficult to come to terms with. Another number of months of not being able to do all the things we enjoy doing with our friends and family, more restrictions on travel and on our whole way of life as we know it. After I had finished sulking for a day or so, I stopped and thought of the 80,000 prisoners currently incarcerated in the UK and how this lockdown announcement would affect them.
In an already harsh environment, they would now have to continue with 23-hour days of being confined to their cell, hardly any access to services like education, workshops, and most importantly not being able to see their families and children. With just over 300,000 children having a parent in prison, the hidden effects of lockdown #3 would not be seen by most of us. Throw in the mental health impact, the fact that there has been a severe increase in prisoners requesting mental health medication and their general wellbeing when they are only allowed 45 minutes of daily exercise and showers every few days: I felt embarrassed by my ‘hissy fit’ on January 4th!
This new lockdown would continue to affect my role also, I knew that I would not be able to take any employers into prison to conduct interviews with candidates that had been identified as ‘work ready’ by our Inside Job representatives. But I also knew that I had to offer my candidates hope at a time when they would feel hopeless and worthless.
I focussed my efforts on employers, as the prisons we work in had covid outbreaks. I could not meet our Inside Job representatives and they couldn’t venture away from their own wing, making it impossible for them to identify new candidates for us to present to employers.
We needed some pandemic positivity I thought, I need to show my candidates that there will be hope for new beginnings and that when they are released, they will have opportunities to turn their lives around. I am pleased to report that although our candidate numbers were limited, we still managed to gain positive outcomes for the handful of candidates we did have and placed them into successful employment.
As we now (hopefully and everything crossed) creep out from under the crushing restrictions, we should be able to get back to the original model of Inside Job. For me, one of the most important aspects of that is, taking employers INTO prison who have REAL jobs and will interview the lads whilst they’re still serving their sentences. This means they are released with the HOPE that a new beginning does await them and they will be able to turn their lives around as well as those of their families!
I am so grateful to all our existing employers as well as all our new employers who are supporting Inside Job and helping to create awareness of how much all of us benefit when we lift the bottom rung of our society – by employing, just one person who has served a sentence.
Our candidates are hugely resilient people and eager to work hard and be loyal to anyone who shows faith in them. If you have a job or are interested in supporting Inside Job then please call me – Bally on 07783 880 924 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an initial discussion.