“I don’t see no festive, you just want to get them out the way... Christmas eve, Christmas day and Boxing day. Them three days you just want them out the way. And really to be honest with you, you don’t want to phone anyone over that time." - Lennox, a stitcher and post-release 'apprentice'
Prison life is bleak on any given day, but being behind bars when everyone outside is celebrating Christmas can be particularly hard. It is very painful to be separated from family and dear ones at a time of festivity. Many begin to see Christmas as just another day as a way to cope.
Even as Christmas is not a happy time for prisoners, it is also tough for their families and the prison staff who are required to be on duty.
“It was horrible. You see... during the Christmas period even the staff just want it over with.”
At Fine Cell Work, we are very aware of the challenges faced by people in prison right through the year. This is why we have launched an appeal to expand our work in prisons to reach more people. Thanks to our supporters generosity, we are closer to achieving our stretch target of £100,000. It is important to us that our stitchers feel connected with the wider Fine Cell Work community. This is especially true during the Christmas season. Having something to do, to stitch, can be good for our stitchers.
“Prison is all about routine. Everything is regimented and timed to the very minute, throughout the year. At Christmas, this routine is disrupted and all we are able to do is try not to focus upon all we are missing out on as our friends and family celebrate without us.” - Brian, a lone stitcher
By reaching more prisoners we are increasing opportunities for participation in skilled, committed craftwork in the shorter term and improving mental health, well-being and employment prospects in the longer term, alongside reduced reoffending. Working with Fine Cell Work through the Christmas period can be helpful in coping with the stress of the season.
"For me personally, I will be spending my afternoon after church sewing with the TV on for background noise. Why? Because the sewing is a silent constant, something familiar and colourful during an unfamiliar time. Every stitch I sew will, throughout this period, contain all the emotion of a lonely Christmas in prison, but at the same it, it will keep me company, distracted productively and produce something beautiful for some lucky customer.” - Brian
While some find the regimented routine painful over Christmas, there can be challenges that are new each year.
"Each year Christmas has been different – maybe a friend has moved on, new stresses affect my mood, or this being my final one in prison uncertainties loom. Even here, there are pressures to buy for the big day, tv programmes to mark in the listings for viewing and smiles to find. Whatever the changes from year to year, on thing has remained constant for me – Fine Cell Work – and a few uninterrupted days to sew. It is something I look forward to, and this year I have a delightful old favourite, an Animaux Fox to stitch." – Sarah, a stitcher
Christmas is a great time to bring people together and to share the message of hope and transformation.
Spare a thought for people in prison this Christmas and also the ‘apprentices’ in our post-release programme. Show them that they are not forgotten during this festive period.
Please contribute to our appeal to expand our urgently-needed rehabilitation programmes. By making a donation today, you are helping prisoners rebuild their lives. You are changing their futures.
Together, we can bring hope to many more.