HMP Hull Family Day

A few weeks ago three New Bridge volunteers went along to HMP Hull where they joined a Family Day which had been organised for prisoners who don’t receive any visits.  They had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with a group of men whom they hadn’t met before, playing board games and having lots of interesting conversations.  Each of them shares their reflections below.












Lucy: I loved being able to go into the prison: talking with the guys who didn't necessarily have family in town was amazing.  One of the things that stood out to me the most was that I didn't know any of their crimes, nor did I need to; I just accepted them as they were and treated them well.  And isn't that how we should be with others? Non-judgmental and just caring of who they are as people and not looking at their past crimes.  Honestly, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had during my time in the UK.  I would recommend it to all people. 

Stephen: The visit to HMP Hull was an uplifting and enjoyable experience.  We were well-looked after by the staff from our time of arrival until our departure. They also gave us a brief insight into the history and lay-out of the prison during a walking tour.  

Our meeting with the prisoners took place in the very spacious chaplaincy.  We played Jenga, Scrabble and worked on a jigsaw during our interactions with the guests. I spent time with three prisoners and found each one of them very amiable and conversational.  As the afternoon progressed they became more relaxed especially when we went outside, to sit in the sunshine, where the very well-cared for gardens are situated. One of the prisoners spoke with a sense of pride about the work he carries out in this setting.  The governor and prison staff present are clearly very passionate about inviting people into the prison environment to visit those individuals who have never had a visit during their time spent inside [in one instance, a period of 26 years].  Our afternoon ended with a game of 'Play your Cards Right'  that was a lot of fun.  I have to say that I found the afternoon a humbling experience and one that brought light into some people's lives.  

Ella: I had a surprisingly nice time at HMP Hull: I’d expected it to be a lot more intense with 1:1 chats and awkwardness but the set up was very casual.  It was a group setting, and I played some Scrabble, ate some cake, and listened and chatted. I had some good conversations with people. I guess because it was only VP prisoners, who have spent a fair bit of time with each other, there was quite a bit of rapport between people and therefore a fairly easy atmosphere. All that said, being in the prison itself brought up weird feelings for me: it was the first time I’ve been in a prison and it’s a shock to the system; it's an oppressive place, as nice as all the staff were that I met there. It was a sunny day and we sat out in a small manicured garden which is usually reserved only for use of family visits. Because the people we visited don't receive family visits, none of them have ever been able to use the space before. The garden is outside of the chapel and inmates can see the garden but are never allowed to access it. When we went out into the garden, one of the guys told me it was the first time he had set foot on grass in 8 months, and that reminded me of these little privileges (with massive effects) I take for granted. The staff I spoke to said they would like to do these visitors’ days quarterly, which isn't a lot, but it is a start, and I would be happy to go there again; I really enjoyed getting to know some of the people there.

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