As a year 10 student who has little to no experience of the working world beyond going out to meet my Mum after coming out of work, and seeing her visible frustration at the intricacies of the working world, I completed a week of work experience with New Bridge. As a result of this limited experience in any kind of workplace, applying for work experience anywhere seemed a daunting prospect. I eventually decided to stick with what I knew and since my father works in the New Bridge offices, and I had been there several times previously, the place closest to familiar was New Bridge. I had a small amount of insight into the administrative complexities of the work that had to be done on a daily basis to maintain an organisation like New Bridge. But what I didn't previously completely grasp was just how important, effective and useful this service was to prisoners all around England & Wales, who are in desperate need of support in what are some of the most emotionally and mentally taxing environments in the world. In fact 9.9% of male prisoners experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] while inside and a staggering 26.1% of female prisoners also experience PTSD. These figures just go to show how necessary the existence of an organisation like New Bridge is to prevent prisoners experience severe mental health problems due to isolation and loneliness.
On my second day working at New Bridge I was tasked with scanning and typing up handwritten evaluations of New Bridge's services by various prisoners. After doing 17 of these evaluations I began to notice a trend, not one was negative. Every single evaluation praised both the befriender and the organisation for assisting them through difficult times and outlined that this was no small task, when you are behind bars for up to 20 hours a day with no contact with the outside world. Many of these prisoners had lost all their families while inside prison, some had been disowned and divorced, abandoned by their friends and loved ones, one prisoner in particular noted that "some of us would not be here without New Bridge". One of the key issues in prison for many of the people that New Bridge befriends is loneliness, and with a New Bridge befriender this issue appears to be resolved, many people said that they felt more confident in talking about their issues, they started to regain faith in humanity and realise that there are people out there who really do care. Seeing all this and more, said about the positive impacts of one organisation, has really made me realise the good that one group of people can do.
Despite the fact that I came to New Bridge looking for an experience of the world of work, I have come away with the knowledge that every part of work that goes into that cause helps someone who is in dire need of support: from letters to evaluation, every word goes a long way.