In HMP Eastwood Park (EWP) we created a small time bank and a prison Goodwill Hours Pot to go alongside it; the hours that the women accrued from their volunteering would go into this pot. The women volunteered by helping other inmates in a number of ways which included reading and maths mentoring, or by being a wing listener (a Samaritan) in their block.
Some of the hours that were donated went towards starting a DVD project and helping the families of women in EWP who live far from Gloucestershire. These DVD’s enabled women who didn’t get to see their children due to distance or other obstacles, make a DVD of the mother reading a story which could then be sent to her children. These types of projects have been shown to help strengthen family bonds.
For those women for whom the DVD project wasn’t suitable, it was possible for a prisoner to donate some of their hours to their own family if the family lived near a time bank and that time bank had the resources to help. So for example, Jane may volunteer as a wing listener and bank her hours, these hours can be spent by participants from our time bank who could help her family redecorate a bedroom whilst Jane is in EWP.
Any hours left over in the pot were used to help out Time Bank members in the community here in Gloucestershire who have previously given many hours of their time but are no longer able to participate in the give and take nature of time banking due to ill health. The extra hours act like a time bank pension. For example, a lady in Moreton who could no longer maintain her own garden or offer a skill to her community had her garden tided with hours donated by prisoners.
In the longer term we met with the women who would be released to the Gloucester area and let them know how joining our Time Bank on release may have benefit them. They could look at possible volunteering opportunities with us, gain new skills, meet new people, increase confidence and self-esteem and get references to help towards employment, as well as getting support with things they may need help with too.