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Remembrance Day in HMP Dartmoor 2018

Tuesday, November 27th 2018 - Liz Ropschitz

RECOOP Devon Buddy manager and a prison officer, along with a SSAFA in-reach volunteer, the prison chaplain and prisoner veterans, organised and contributed to a multi faith Remembrance service and tree planting ceremony at HMP Dartmoor.

Young and old alike united to remember all who had suffered or died in conflict, many having lived experience of combat. RECOOP prisoner Buddies were on hand to assist those with mobility issues to attend both the service and the tree planting ceremony.

RECOOP donated the ceremonial tree, a white stemmed birch, planted in the newly created memorial garden within the prison grounds. The tree, Betula Pendula, is symbolic of new beginnings, new dawns, hope, and is the bringer of promise and light.

An elderly prisoner veteran told RECOOP that he was honoured to have been able to plant one of the poppy crosses, donated by SSAFA, during the ceremony, in memory of a fellow pilot he had known during his service in the RAF.

Another prisoner told RECOOP that he particularly remembered his grandfather who had died in WW1. He had been a tank driver. He said that it was a time to reflect, but especially good to have a tree as a permanent reminder and centre piece for prisoners in future years.

The plaque, also donated by RECOOP simply read: ‘In Remembrance of Those Who Served and Lost Their Lives’.

RECOOP supports all veterans in the Devon prisons, who have health and social care needs. Centred around the ‘whole person’ and their needs, trained Buddies support them to maintain their independence and well-being and signpost them to appropriate services available.

SSAFA Prison In-reach service forms an essential part of support for veterans in custody. Their specialist Prison In-reach volunteers are trained in all aspects of working within the prison context with a good understanding of the Criminal Justice System and the prison system. They are also equipped to help with issues such as housing and resettlement when veterans in custody get closer to their release.

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