Dear Prison Staff,
I wanted to write to tell you how much you are valued and how much I have learnt from you over the past 15 years. I have met some incredible officers and staff who have shown patient, strength and commitment, in some of the toughest times. I have met prison educators who have created positive spaces for learning in some of the toughest places. I have met governors who have shown courage and compassion, in the darkest of moments. I research and work prisons a lot and one thing remains constant; that in a crisis, prison staff unite and show exceptional spirit and skill.
And so, we find ourselves in the biggest global crisis of our lives to date and whilst I fear and worry for those in prison, as they sit in that cell with little human connection, feeling a deep sense of anxiety and uncertainty, I know that they have a team of people easing the pain of isolation, sometimes at the expense of their own health and well-being. I asked my twitter followers for some words of reassurance and positive statements for you all at this time. Here is a selection of messages I received. I wish you all the best. Keep going and let’s come together when all this is over and reflect on what we have learnt and how we can use this experience to grow as a service.
Dr Sarah Lewis
I am proud of you. Of your efforts, your drive, your focus, and how you never give up. I'm proud that you find and offer the light of hope in these challenging times. I'm proud that you're still getting up every day to get things done and save lives. You inspire others, give courage through your words and trust through your actions. What you do matters and I wanted to tell all prison staff that I am proud of you.
You do a really hard job - thank you. If you can get some music into your day, great! + humour to keep spirits up! If it helps bring a smile, when we've visited prisoners on wards, they often ask for 'The Animals' - 'I wanna get outta this place' + Queen's 'I want to break free!'
Hang in there!
For those who work in prison, we give a big high five in recognition of your efforts.
Your work is often unsung, day in and day out. The conditions can be tough both physically and mentally. Covid19 is a further challenge to keep people safe. That’s dedication. We thank you.
You are the hidden heroes
Keep up the good work, what you do matters and the way you do it makes a difference. Remember that there are men and women inside and out who rely on and appreciate you. And if you hadn’t got an loo roll, take some from stores!
The skill, commitment and compassion of POs is largely hidden and poorly understood at the best of times. Right now, they are deploying all that they have in every way, to keep people safe. They deserve our loudest applause and thanks.
Every day Prison Officers face people and situations that most people would find terrifying. The forgotten service. But for those of us in the know, you guys and girls keep everyone safe; prisons and public. And you do it with decency and a sense of humour. You are my heroes.
We were stretched before all this kicked off. I really don’t want to think how stretched you are now. Thank you so much. Total respect. (from an ex-20 years in service)
I listened when others chose not to hear.
I faced you when others turned their backs.
I set boundaries, yet with others there were none.
I gave direction when others did not.
I stopped you from ending your future, when others did not see a future.
I encouraged you to take ownership, when others disowned you.
I noticed you change.
I am not others, I am a Prison Officer.