Anna has volunteered with New Bridge for 8 years (with a brief interlude whilst she grew some children), and will be running the London marathon (her first ever marathon!) in April 2023 in support of our work. New Bridge provides people in prison with a bridge to the outside world, along with an increased sense of value and potential for their future. We match people in prisons with trained volunteers who offer long-term support through a combination of correspondence and visits.
We asked Anna why she is passionate about supporting our work and she said:
"Reoffending rates show that the prison system isn't fit for purpose. There are high rates of mental ill health and suicide within the prison population, with limited resources to meet health needs let alone rehabilitation.
- 52% of prisoners report having at least one mental health condition
- Self-inflicted deaths are over six times more likely in prison than in the general population, and approximately 30% of prisoners who take their own lives had no family contact prior to their deaths
- 31% of people in prison report having no family or friends visiting them
- 44% of people are reconvicted within a year of being released from prison, and people are more likely to reoffend if they did not have visits from friends and family while inside: 47% of those who had visitors went on to reoffend, whereas the rate is much higher at 68% for those who did not have visitors
This makes charities like New Bridge all the more needed. A volunteer provides a listening ear and a link to the everyday world. Research shows having supportive networks makes rehabilitation more likely, and ultimately prevents further victims of crime.
One of the main things I've learnt through my social work career and volunteering with New Bridge, is that the vast majority of offenders (a population of some 89,500 in the UK and growing!) are often the children and young people I come across at work, who have faced difficulties beyond their control, had adverse childhood experiences and might not have had the networks around them to help them on the right path. Shamefully, children who are care experienced are disproportionately represented in the prison population.
I know that I will finish the marathon, perhaps not very fast, but I will get to the end. Partly because I'm bloody stubborn, but more so because I am grateful for my liberty, grateful for being lucky to have the family, friends, education and opportunities I have had. I know others haven't been so lucky and this has led to a different path. I believe in a justice system, but I also believe people need a chance to change and I believe New Bridges tries to help with this. So please give generously for a good cause and to build a safer more compassionate society, and to help me run a really really long way!
Cheese alert... When my legs get tired and I know I'll be running with my heart 💓
(If you are interested in becoming a New Bridge volunteer I am happy to talk about my experiences or contact them direct)"
Want to be kept up to date with the latest news and developments at New Bridge? Click here to sign up to receive our quarterly supporter newsletter.