2021 was another challenging year for so many of us. Those outside prison faced a further winter and spring of strict coronavirus restrictions, with more time separated from loved ones, grappling to acclimatise to the new normal of home-schooling, remote working and
remote socialising. Those inside prison faced continuing coronavirus restrictions too, with 23-hour lockdown incells, and the majority of the year with no possibility of receiving visitors. As the months progressed, those of us outside prison experienced the relief of restrictions lifting and life moving slowly back towards normal. However, people in prison continued to endure 23-hour cell lockdowns and a high level of social isolation.
New Bridge saw applications from people in prison rise to their highest number ever, as the pain of isolation grew. However we also saw our highest ever number of engaged volunteers, helping us to meet this demand.
the sense of isolation and
abandonment I felt, and continue to
feel, was mitigated by regular letters
from the outside. At present we have
reverted to COVID stage 4, and coping
once again with 23hr lockdown in
our cells. As well as regular, fulsome,
and jam-packed letters, my volunteer
also sends me postcards and emails.
This connection with the “real” world
provides a life-line, a tenuous touch
of normality in what is fast becoming
isolation chambers of misery in
Lucy joined New Bridge as CEO in February 2022, following the retirement of Judith Smith. Judith led the organisation for five years, two of which encompassed the pandemic and the enormous change in our service delivery which this necessitated, and everyone at New Bridge is grateful for her dedication and unwavering focus during this time, and wishes her the very best, wherever her future takes her.
Our ever growing community of dedicated volunteers need to be celebrated for their ongoing commitment to the people they befriend, even through the turbulence of their own lives during the pandemic.
We are indeed privileged to work with so many people who give so much of their time.
It gives you a sense of remaining
human, someone genuine is invested in
you and does not judge you because of
your offence. New Bridge has given me
self-belief and esteem that I had lost
for so many years and I appreciate the
support my Befriender has given me
The impact of the work that we do is evident in the heartfelt evaluations which prisoners send us every year. Indeed, 98% of evaluation respondents said they would recommend our service to others, and a third reported finding out about our support after a recommendation from another prisoner. We are passionate about helping New Bridge reach even more people who can benefit from our support, by continuing to increase our community of dedicated volunteers and creating new funding partnerships. We hope you enjoy reading this report, which explores our work in 2021 and the impact that it has had on the people we serve.
Helen Bootham, Chair, & Lucy Ball, CEO