An interview with Daniel - Recovery Coordinator at HMP Holme House
Tell us about a project you’re proud of
A lot of our residents use the library but we struggle with funding. When we tried to direct service users to a recovery section, there wasn’t one. There were psychology books, health books and biographies but nothing specifically about addiction or recovery.
So I worked with the library staff and arranged for us to get our own book case in the library, which we never thought we’d have. Initially we only had a shelf! We’ve now got over 300 different books, all recommended or requested by the residents.
Some people have been in recovery for 10 years, so it’s the perfect opportunity to start reading about it.
HMP Holme House is a working prison, what does that mean?
As a resident at Holme House, Monday to Friday you will go to work or access activities. Some extra-curricular activities will be done before or after work.
The prison has a variety of different workshops including: laundry, woodmill, joinery, textiles and waste management. All the chairs and tables in the prison are made by the residents in the joinery and upholstery workshop!
Other options can include peer mentoring with our DART service, working for the Samaritans as a listener and taking education courses like maths, English and IT.
The residents use the money they earn for things like phone credit and vape oils – it’s a smoke free prison so lots of people vape now.
How is the Drug Recovery Prison pilot going?
We see a lot of guys that struggle with being in custody and having areas of their life, such as freedom of movement restricted. Many struggle with the boredom of being behind their door for long periods; these men sometimes turn to substances and currently one of our biggest challenges is Spice, which is a synthetic cannabinoid. This can leave the men in at risk, but in their words “brings down the wall, even if it’s just for a bit.”
We’re moving to having allocated healthcare teams in all the different house blocks of the prison now, so we can run things like mutual aid groups and other structured groups without having to move people around the prison, which makes it much easier. Each house block will soon be a community with named mental health staff, drug and alcohol staff, officers and residents.
One of the benefits of house block working is allowing the men to participate in activities other than the daily work. This will happen on an evening and allows the men to engage with groups, create their own groups and workshops and try new activities. This is completely different from the current regime – we will be looking to promote activities that can support recovery and use the strengths and interests of all community members.
I hope this new regime of evening activities allows the men to learn, grow and interact. Hopefully it will help with both mental health and substance use. Some of the activities planned are: AA, CA, NA and evening awareness groups, wellbeing sessions, mental health awareness groups and arts and crafts groups.
As well as this new way of evening operating the DRP has also implemented a new recovery strategy, which sees new security scanners and other technologies located for residents, visitors and staff, and dedicated search teams to help stem the flow of drugs into the prison.
The residents are reporting back about their experiences via the Democratic Council Meetings and we are constantly looking for ways to improve.