NFWI Care Not Custody Prison Journeys Project 2011 - Maria's story

December 07, 2011 Balham WI 0 Comments

The NFWI is taking part in a creative writing project with Action for Prisoners Families about journeys to prison. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the experiences of families who have relatives in prison.
Maria, our Assistant Secretary, volunteered to make the journey from her home to a prison and write about the experience of making this journey. Here is her story:
"I set off from King's Cross to visit David in prison. The train to Peterborough takes an hour. On arrival I check for buses for the next stage; they seem to be infrequent and the journey time nearly two hours, so I board another train and twenty minutes later arrive at March. Here there are taxis available; however I decide to walk the one and a half miles to the prison. The weather is warm and the walk pleasant enough but only one side of the road has a footpath which in places is less than a metre wide and traverses two ungated level crossings: perilous if I were using it with a couple of children and a buggy.
At the prison a wedding has taken place. The pretty bride and lively youngsters may have many more visits; most of the men here are serving long sentences.
As I sit and talk to David, he tells me that his family live in the Manchester area and face a difficult journey when they come. This involves three trains and they usually stay overnight nearby; the total cost can be between two and three hundred pounds. Before David went to prison he visited his father most days but now at 87 and in poor health he cannot make the journey. David fears that they may not see each other again.
At the end of my visit I ask the receptionist in the Visiting Centre if I can leave my unused refreshment tokens for someone else. She tells me that she keeps them until Christmas and buys treats for the children visiting then. I think 'imagine visiting Dad in prison at this time, but how much worse if you couldn't be there.'
My journey took around three and a half hours each way and cost £48.35. It would have been considerably more without the benefit of my Freedom Pass and Senior Railcard."

Posted by Caroline

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