I had just moved to Exeter and was semi- retired. Exeter is a new city to me and I was looking for something different to do to fill in time. Volunteering felt like it would provide a stimulus but I wasn’t interested in helping out at charity shops or fund raising. A visit to the Exeter CVS gave me a list of volunteering activities and the stand-out option was running a book club at Exeter Prison for the over 50s.
My reasons for choosing this are entirely selfish. I wanted to join a book club with men of my own age and was particularly keen to slip out of my comfort zone. This seemed to fit the bill. I can’t admit that I chose this option to help my fellow man. People who know me would not describe me as charitable.
After a few chats with Liz from RECOOP I went along to the prison for a taster session. I could have dropped out at that stage but had no intention of backing out and have stuck with it.
Although the prison and its population are intimidating the Book Club meetings are lively. I think the Book Club members enjoy it and it least it kills a couple of hours for them. I let the group choose the books and I was interested that they prefer non- fiction books. However, my group have all been sent to other prisons to complete their sentences so the next group may view things differently.
There is a challenge to sitting with a dozen or so men serving long sentences. We don’t have very much in common in our past, present or future. It is also interesting to meet people who you have only recently read about in the local paper. With all that in front of me I know that it is not for me to judge them – other people have done that.
Winston Churchill said that “the true measure of a civilised society is how it treats people accused of crimes”. I hope I am civilised.
- Transition 50+ Resettlement Programme “really provides a focus for the men, some of whom have spent a very long tim… https://t.co/5r9ZKJ9D0n10:05am, Mar 18, 2019
- Just published: 'A Different Sense of Time' – a portfolio of RECOOP’s age-appropriate services to aid prisons find… https://t.co/zGMs8LY5nu11:25am, Feb 19, 2019
- Over 34,000 individuals benefited from RECOOP's 50+ Day Centres in 2018 https://t.co/FR4jwYZkZx10:29am, Feb 06, 2019
- RECOOP’s Distraction Packs address the need for prisoners to “…. access stimulating in-cell activities to help them… https://t.co/axl9pTpqTS9:20am, Jan 23, 2019
- We were delighted to be invited to The Langley House Trust’s carol service at The Knole in Cheltenham. Merry Christ… https://t.co/5XLyDRc0vA10:04am, Dec 20, 2018
- We are delighted to have been awarded a further 3-year contract to continue to provide Day Centre provision for the… https://t.co/yuoYzJKnlp9:15am, Dec 18, 2018
- Multi-faith Remembrance Service and tree planting ceremony held at HMP Dartmoor in conjunction with @RECOOP_UK and… https://t.co/Tj3kfPqad69:28am, Nov 27, 2018
- Skills learned by one man at the Lobster Pot (over 50s Day Centre at HMP Leyhill) have proved to be invaluable post… https://t.co/sKWYTbVchB11:17am, Nov 20, 2018
- Social care in prisons in England & Wales-A thematic report/Oct 18 recommends “any prisoner providing social care s… https://t.co/gnEl0BerHJ9:22am, Oct 24, 2018
- Aldo Trust grant helps support prisoners directly via RECOOP https://t.co/bwhiVuGPQQ9:10am, Oct 15, 2018