We have been keeping in touch with the apprentices enrolled in our Open the Gates programme whilst our Hub is closed and continue to be blown away by the resilience that they are showing in the face of the current situation. Below is a blog written by Anthony, who shares his thoughts on the coronavirus lockdown;
“The coronavirus lockdown is in effect.” This phrase has set people panicking and stressing all over the country.
‘Oh what will we do?’’
"I can’t cope with this stress"
"We will have to stock up on loo rolls, water and tinned foods"
"How will we manage?"
And this is from people in public everyday life.We have all been told to stay inside, to only go out once a day for an hour’s exercise, only shop once a week, we're only allowed into the supermarket one at a time, and a limited amount of items in your cart.
Lockdown is a common word in prison. Staying inside all day except for one hour of exercise once a day, shopping for your canteen once a week and often limited by how many of one thing you can buy. Trying to stock up on loo rolls etc.
In prison little things that normally wouldn’t bother us become a big deal, something as simple as hanging a towel on the end of a bed can become a huge thing for your cell mate.
When I first arrived in prison, just realising that I was in prison was a big deal. The stress levels rise and, if you don’t have a single cell then it’s usually a week or so of checking out your cellmate.
Settling into prison life and a new routine adds extra stress. Getting to know where everything is in the wing. Getting to know people and officers on the wing, who to trust and who to stay away from. It all adds to the pressure.
The lockdowns when they happen are long and boring, 23 hours in the small confines of a cell either with a cellmate or on your own. Your exercise in the yard for one hour can be at any time and during the lockdown there are limits to the number of prisoners allowed out at any one time.
Those of us who are prison leavers are used to these conditions. I call it getting into prison mode. I do this by imagining I’m back in prison again and back in the routine then mentally I picture settling down to do things in a ordered way.
So when the news speaks about the coronavirus lockdown, you can begin to empathise with those prisoners who have to endure this every day, month, year, until their sentence is complete.
My top tip for dealing with the lockdown would be to keep your brain active by reading, writing, meditating, art, anything that gets your head out of where you are and keeps your mind occupied."
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