July 23, 2020

Locked up. Locked down. Locked out: A Record of Our Own Campaign is looking at the impact of Covid-19 in prison

Diane Curry OBE, Khatuna Tsintsadze, & Yvonne MacNamara
A Record of Our Own

The emerging findings from the Public Health England report “Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID – 19 on BAME groups” states that there is clear evidence that Covid-19 has not affected all population groups equally. Death rates from this pandemic were higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups.  

Although this report does not specifically include reference to people from Gypsy, Roma or Traveller backgrounds, it states, “BAME groups tend to have poorer socioeconomic circumstances which lead to poorer health outcomes. Economic disadvantage is also strongly associated with the prevalence of smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and their cardio-metabolic complications, which all increase the risk of disease severity”. These factors are equally applicable to people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller backgrounds. It remains an area of concern that although Irish Travellers and Roma people have the same protection under the Equality Act 2010, as other ethnic groups, reliable data for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people does not exist.

Partners and advisors of the “A Record of Our Own” Campaign have vast knowledge of, and access to, prisoners, prison leavers and their families.  Many of us specialise in providing support to men and women from diverse Black, Asian and Gypsy Roma and Traveller backgrounds. 

This Campaign is our attempt to provide them with a ‘voice’ in order to share their experiences in this most unprecedented of times.  It is vital that we gather the thoughts and views of all those affected by Covid-19 and our focus at ‘A Record of Our Own’ is on the people whom we support and whose voice is often lost in the general conversation.

The Zahid Mubarek Trust, The Traveller Movement and POPS, have always been at the forefront of engaging with the communities affected by the CJS. Demand for our support and advocacy services has reached a new record level since the lockdown. 

In response to urgent needs and challenges raised by our communities, we have been focused on three key areas of work: obtaining better information on behalf of our beneficiaries, recording their experiences and learning lessons from their stories of struggle. This joint work has led us to launching ‘A Record of Our Own’ campaign. 

In order to capture as many stories as possible, the Campaign will be engaging with prisoners, prison leavers and prisoners’ families. Our approach is based on compassionate listening to those affected and providing a safe space for them to share.  We will utilise technology and adhere to social distancing to speak with people in the community both individually and in groups and forward a questionnaire to those prisoners who hear about the campaign and wish to become involved.

Many of us who work in the Criminal Justice field and especially within the confines of a prison wall, have recognised the importance of listening to and learning from those we work along side of and provide services to. Over seventy stories and interview requests have been received from prisoners, prison leavers and families describing the impact of these 100 days.

‘A Record of Our Own’ gave us the opportunity to do something differently, not because we can but because we should.

We will hear their voices, share their concerns and encourage others to listen. 

Check us out at www.arecordofourown.org

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