Last week I took a journey to and from the Isle of Wight. My trip involved trains, boats and buses, but I managed to return in one day. While I was on the island I spent two hours with an inmate of Parkhurst Prison. It was the first time we had met and I was there in place of members of this man's family and friends who all live very far away on the mainland and the north of England. The cost of such a journey and the distance prohibit them visiting him on a frequent basis. As previously mentioned, my journey involved a range of public transport to reach the prison and I am used to travelling long distances – especially in my role as NFWI Chair – but many people are not as comfortable.
The visit was one of several undertaken by WI members as part of a project with Action for Prisoners’ Families. Members have volunteered to make journeys from their homes to a given prison to highlight the difficulties that can prevent prisoners from receiving visits. It is argued that visitors play a part in the rehabilitation that a prison sentence is supposed to provide, so highlighting how difficult these trips can sometimes be is an important consideration. Each participant will write a detailed account of their journey to make their visit, and all of the accounts will be compiled in a final report to be launched at the end of the year. The important thing to remember is that at the end of each journey is a person, and hopefully this report will go a long way in highlighting this very point.