It’s been 10 years since I worked in a prison. Wearing a belt and keychain again and not having access to my mobile until the end of the day (having spent the last few working years with it always in hand!) has felt slightly unnatural.
Nevertheless it hasn’t taken me long to get back into the swing of things and I’ve been so pleased to see some familiar faces of old colleagues. But the welcome from all the staff has given me a real sense of being in this situation together, doing the best we can.
Seeing the commitment and resilience of our frontline staff at this time is very humbling. They have the same concerns and stresses as many of the general population and despite this are continuing to deliver.
Although our services may not gain as much public recognition as others, we face equally difficult challenges. It’s fair to say our operational staff are hidden heroes, who carry on with a sense of humour, adaptability and mutual support.
Our non-operational staff, particularly those in the offender management units, are also working very hard with the extra requirements of early releases. It’s a joint effort on both sides that keeps the prison service and justice system running.
They are adapting hour by hour in an ever-changing environment; breaking news to prisoners; responding to questions from worried prisoners; handling their own anxieties plus the anxieties of those in their care. All this with a workforce reduced by sickness or self-isolating.
It’s our responsibility and privilege to support the frontline staff in their roles as best we can.
With thanks from a HQ worker full of admiration.