Prison Lockdown - Week 1 & 2
Updated: Apr 9
The First Two Weeks Inside
If you have visited the prison during the last few years, we may have met!
I am Felicity, one of the customer sales advisors and tour guides at Shepton Mallet Prison, but most people call me Flick. I have been working with the team since August 2017.
Both Shepton Mallet Prison and our Sister-Prison Shrewsbury took the decision to close for six weeks, from 22nd March, protecting not only visitors but staff too. All of the country is now on “lockdown” for at least 3 weeks, and many people are starting to feel the pressure of spending so much time inside, often only seeing the people in their household.
Working on the front desk, us CSAs and tour guides get to hear customers’ immediate thoughts on their visit to the #prison, especially any emotional reactions they have. By their nature, prisons are closed environments, and the people who have spent time inside know what it is like to be locked away.
To try and gain a glimpse of this feeling, we will often encourage visitors to try and take a moment to pick a cell, stand inside by themselves, and close the door. Of course, spending a minute or two during a tour is of no comparison to the actual amount of time a prisoner will spend behind bars, but it helps to give people a real feel for it.
However, could we now be experiencing a bit more of this prison life? Perhaps some of us have already experienced “cabin fever?”.
When you look in the media at some of the words and phrases being used to describe what is happening in this country and around the world, they are reminiscent of prison-related lingo!
“End of freedom”
In #prisons, boredom amongst prisoners can lead to a rise in drug misuse, self harm and violence. Can we take any advice from prisons about how to cope with the current challenges many of us may now be experiencing?
The Independent recently released an article on this exact topic. In the article they discuss the subject with ex-con, writer and prison consultant, Justin Paperny. He makes these 4 statements of advice that he gives to prisoners;
Recognise what you can and cannot control. We all like to have a good moan about things, but sometimes we have no control over things. Why stress about something which we cannot have any impact upon?
Master self-discipline so you don’t get distracted. Especially difficult for those of us who work from home or are helping educate children at home. Although we may not be going out to work or school, keeping a regular routine, one that may be similar to our normal lives, and adhering to it can help to prevent becoming distracted, even if it is something as simple as sticking to your normal morning routine of waking up, washing, getting dressed etc.
Be open-minded and focus on one day at a time. Perhaps in prison this may be more simple as you will know your release date and you can create a plan around this. We simply do not know for certain when the current restrictions may come to an end but try not to obsess over this or waste time predicting.
Be resourceful when combating boredom and remind yourself of the bigger picture. Both for prisoners and us staying at home, boredom can be staved off by starting new tasks, learning a new skill or doing things you’ve put off. You could even combine 2 activities; tackling the pile of ironing in the corner of you room whilst watching that film or box set you got last Christmas.
I am certainly looking forward to the end of this #lockdown, but in the meantime perhaps I need to stop reading coronavirus conspiracy theories, wear something other than my pjs, stop making a scratch on the wall as every day passes by, and finish knitting the cardigan I’ve been “working on” for the past 12 months. I’ll post a picture here when its finished!
Until next time, stay safe.
Felicity - CSA at Shepton Mallet Prison