Christmas present ideas

Someone asked me today for ideas of what to send their loved one for Christmas so I’ve had a good think and been doing some googling and listed some ideas for you guys below.
1. You could print out and send in a Christmas tree on A4 paper (you could make it big and split it over multiple sheets of A4) so that he has a tree of his own. If you are feeling particularly artistic you could cut slits in it so that the A4 pages all come together to make a 3D tree. You could send in paper baubles too over the rest of December so he can put those on his ‘tree’.

2. Similarly you could take a picture of the tree you have up in your home and send the picture to him so that you both have the ‘same’ tree.

3. Again, if you’re feeling creative you could make a paper advent calendar with a door for him to open each day with a reason why you love him written behind each day for example.

4. If you have actually bought him something you could wrap it up, put it under the tree and send him a picture. Tell him it’s waiting for him. Maybe take photos of you or your children unwrapping it.

5. Send him pictures of the lingerie you’ve bought to wear for him when he’s out, or even better, send pictures of you in it!

6. Send a picture of you and a picture of your other half to an artist and ask them to draw a new picture of you guys. Given that here in the UK we don’t have photo days in the prisons I’m sure you’ll appreciate the new photo just as much as he will!

7. Send letters on Christmas paper and spray them with Christmassy scents.

8. If your prison allows books, clothes etc to be sent in treat him to some new bits and bobs.

9. Visit him and buy him ALL THE FOOD in the visit centre and use that as your version of Christmas day and Christmas dinner.

10. For something more light hearted cut out a picture of him and take pictures of you and the family with it in the run up to Christmas and on Christmas day – remind him that you’re all thinking of him even though he’s not there.

11. Send the ‘open when’ letters to him that we have previously feautured on the blog.

12. Both organise to watch a Christmas film on TV at the same time so it’s like you’re watching it together.

Let me know if you guys have any more ideas and don’t forget that it’s never guaranteed things will actually get into prisons so bare that in mind when spending time and money making things. 

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Something we know all too well but others may not

It is very easy (and comforting) to assume that those who commit crimes go to prison and those who don’t carry on their lives on the outside. Unfortunately, it has been acknowledged that actually, eye witness testimonies are fairly inaccurate. Additionally, police and others involved in the process have been found to be no better than the average person at detecting who is lying and who is telling the truth – often using stereotypes to make decisions. Lie detector tests are also fairly unreliable and so at the minute there are very limited resources to pin point who has done what when it comes to crime. 

This means that people who shouldn’t be in prison sometimes are and people who should be sometimes aren’t. Your average person is unlikely to know the facts and shocking statistics surrounded this issue and so will often laugh if you talk of innocent men and women being locked up – people don’t think it happens. Whilst a majority of those in prisons are there because they have reason to be, statistically there must also be some innocent people amongst them. I have heard many stories myself and whilst it might be small numbers in comparison to the success rate of imprisoning the correct people, that small minority will have their lives potentially ruined. 

It is something that is an issue and more people should be made aware.

Open when… letters

I love getting a bit creative with the things I send to my other half. Not only does it give me something to do that keeps me busy but it also gives him something a bit more exciting to look forward to. 

I’ve seen lots of long distance couples make letters like this, to be opened at set times but some weren’t suitable to be sent into prisons. For example you can’t send an “open when hungry” full of his favourite snacks because the only one getting those snacks would be the prison officers!

So I’ve made some more prison friendly “open whens” and I’ll be telling you what I put in each one over the next few weeks.

The Secret Life Of Prisoners

For those of you with loved ones in prison I imagine everything you saw on this channel 4 documentary wasn’t all that surprising. Some of it was hard to watch but through first had experience and through the stories I hear at visits, none of what I saw took me by surprise. 

I was interested to see other people’s opinions though, from those who have a limited knowledge of what goes on in prisons in the UK. As soon as the programme finished my dad made a comment about not understanding why people re-offend. I tried to explain that whilst I am not making excuses for people, I think if you have spent a lot of your life in prison, coming out is a massive culture shock. Often people come out to nothing. No home, no job, no money, perhaps no friends and family. In my opinion, I can quite clearly see why people fall straight back into the habit of re-offending. My dad: “why don’t they just ask for help?” One thing I felt that the documentary had attempted to demonstrate was the lack of help available, even when asked. I reiterated this to my dad whose final argument was “well they should just help themselves.” Right, sure, you tell that to all the addicts and those with a whole lot of different shit going on -just help yourself. 

Unfortunately, whilst Channel 4 may have successfully shown shocking footage that gripped people’s attention, their motto is “changing perceptions with documentaries on 4” but I don’t think they achieved that. I feel that there should have been more emphasis on the prisoners WANTING to change but not being given the chance or resources to. There should have been a wider emphasis on WHY people take drugs, WHY people re-offend and what changes can be made in terms of staffing, education, support etc and less emphasis on the drug taking itself.

I don’t think perceptions towards inmates were changed at all unfortunately. My boyfriend is an innate in one of those prisons many will have watched from the comfort of their homes last night. He is living it. I don’t think anyone should judge a situation unless they have been in it themselves, and being in prison is no different. My dad can go around saying if he went to prison he would never take drugs, but sat on his sofa surrounded by his family that is very easy to say. Locked up for 23 hours a day in that environment with just your own thoughts and no freedom and I think we would all act very differently to how we act at home.

The hard days – just a moan

On the whole I am a very positive person. Yes my boyfriend being in prison sucks, but being sad about it won’t change anything and so I just get on with it and look forward to the day he gets out. 
Sometimes though, it all gets too much. Today is one of those days. My life at the minute is pretty intense and lots of little things have been building up today and got on top of me. I’m struggling, but no one knows how to make me feel better. My family and friends are making me feel worse because they don’t know how to make me laugh or how to deal with me when I’m unhappy. He does, but he’s not here. Not only is he not here but I don’t even know when I’ll next hear from him or see him. 

All I need right now is to climb into bed with him and for him to make everything OK. I have a long wait until I can have that. When I feel like this, his release date feels like an eternity away and no one in my life understands that.

Most of the time, I’m OK and this prison sentence is just something temporary that we have to deal with but tonight it is not OK and I am not OK.

Send a Christmas message

insidetime

Inside Time, the newspaper for prisoners is allowing people to send in their Christmas messages for their loved ones. Messages will be published in the newspaper and delivered to the prisoner at Christmas time.

Messages can be up to 25 words and need sending to lf@insidetime.org

You need to include your name and number and the address of your loved one (prison address including their name and prison number).

The closing date for submitting messages is the 18th November.