Each year New Bridge asks the prisoners with a befriender to give their views on New Bridge and to share their stories. The 2015 report shows that:
We are all human beings, no matter where we are.
Prisoners wrote about loneliness, isolation and depression. 34% get letters only from their New Bridge volunteer and 56% have no other visitor. Befriending did have a positive effect on re-establishing links with others which is key to their resettlement. A long term non-judgemental relationship helped prisoners prepare and think positively about the future.
Here are some of their stories.
“I feel a deep sense of shame in regards to my offenses and often feel I will be ostracised by society on my release. No one would want to associate with someone who’s done what I have done. But my befriender sees me as a person beyond my offenses. He sees me as a person not a criminal. If he can see this, then others might see the same. Life on release may not be so bad.”
“At first I was nervous and scared when I contacted New Bridge, especially that I’m a sex offender and how the general public sees sex offenders. [However] this was proved not to be the case as within a few weeks of my application being approved, I had my New Bridge befriender. Having a New Bridge befriender has helped me. This is due that I’m no longer bottling things up nor keeping my troubles to myself as I unload to my befriender and ask for their input and advice on the issues I am having at the time.”
"When I decided to first contact New Bridge, I was so alone and isolated that I had lost all interest in the possibility of parole. Over the years, contact with my family and friends slow and eventually dried up. My hopes disappeared along their letters and visits."
"After a few months of writing, my volunteer asked if I would like a visit. What has this done for me? It has given me something to look forward to, to hope for. Someone is willing to discuss a whole range of things [and] to act as sounding board for my ideas, hopes and fear. Most of all, it made me feel human again."
"I have since completed all of my Sentence Planning Targets, volunteered for three roles which aim to help others and improve prison life, helped prison staff with research and have been recommended for transfer. It has also offered me the hope that there is a future where I can be accepted back into society as a fully function human being."
Read the 2015 evaluation report by Cristiana Cardoso in the News.