As we start another week here on Planet FTI we take a moment to pause and reflect on the previous seven days which represented a very positive week for us, particularly in our quest for sector awareness.
We also reflect, in our diary excerpt below, on a first time prisoners experience of spending his first Fathers Day in prison away from his family.
One of the most positive and pleasing elements of last week was hearing Keith Gardiner, Head of Analysis and Improvement at Community Justice Scotland mention – in positive terms – First Time Inside in his presentation around community justice at the Social Work Scotland annual conference which took place over two days at Crieff Hydro in Perthshire.
Keith went further a few days later in a twitter thread online with the justice minister Humza Yousaf when he endorsed our efforts to achieve a meeting with the minister saying “I would endorse this – Gerry has a real insight and has made an impact on me – and I am an old farty with quarter of a century+ in the justice sector. Fresh thinking, innovative ideas and a real drive for change.” Wonderful comments allied to great humour.
This response and sentiment was further boosted by lawyer Tony Bone who replied to Keith saying, “I wholeheartedly agree…@FirstTimeInside has an ingenious set of tools and motivated for all the right reasons.”
This kind of feedback is a source of great motivation and of course personal pride that our message is starting to be heard and approved of by individuals with extensive Justice experience.
It was also a week which saw a couple of small Twitter milestones achieved when one of our little media storyboard items received around 1500 views across a few days and we also saw our 400th Twitter follower join our feed. (In actual fact our little collection of media items released last week have seen over 3500 actual views on Twitter which we are both happy about and humbled by). It is the quality of that Twitter following, in professional terms, that we are most pleased with combined with those same people showing a willing to share our messages with a greater audience. As we develop our Facebook presence those exposure numbers will only increase.
Our Blog continues to grow in popularity both online and offline, to the extent that we have opened discussions with a couple or three interested parties who have suggested an interest in sponsoring our creative elements as well as our concept in general terms. As things develop we will report them here and of course through social media on Twitter and Facebook as well as our website www.firsttimeinside.co.uk
We have also made a conscious decision to open discussions with potential advertisers and sponsors as a route to generating funding to further develop not only our First Time Inside concept but also our additional concepts around www.prisonpack.co.uk and www.prehabilitation.co.uk about which we will share more information soon.
To date we have been entirely self-funding and it is our aim to be continually creative in our efforts to attract new sources of support for all of the concept avenues we wish to develop. In regard to that we have reached a marketing/sponsorship agreement with Creo Design which will see them utilise advertising space within our blogging platform and website. That will become live in the coming weeks or even days.
The support of Martin Boyle, MD and his outstanding team at Creo will be important to us when moving our concepts forward.
In addition to all of the positivity listed above we were delighted and further encouraged in a meeting last week with Beltrami Law in Glasgow when they confirmed that the services of First Time Inside will be added to the corporate website of Beltrami and Co in the very near future. It was great to hear such a positive philosophy in relation to client/solicitor relationships and a holistic approach to criminal law. We are delighted to open that style of working relationship with a recognised leading law firm.
And we have just heard that Aamer Anwar & Co will be doing the same.
As if that wasn’t enough we have another series of great meetings lined up for this week, as well as requests to schedule additional meetings, which will present further opportunities to advance the concepts of First Time Inside.
Todays’ diary excerpt was written on Fathers Day 2018 and attempts to share the emotion and thoughts of a first time prisoner on that day, we hope you enjoy the messages and humour in it.
“Today started like any other in this fiercely challenging place with the cell door being opened and slammed closed again as the first head count of the day took place quickly followed by the delivery of a little carton milk which accompanied my Weetabix as I enjoyed another breakfast in bed here in HMP Hotel and Spa. I’ve kept the carton as it fits perfectly between the bars on the cell windows and it will join his pals in making sure my curtain remains in place…no fancy curtain rails or rods in this palace of minimilisation….is that even a word?
Waking each day I feel a bit like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. The door opening and closing is my version of Phil Connors infuriatingly high pitched alram clock. Like Phil I awaken to the split second thought that the world is settled on its axis only for the torrent or realisation to flow rapidly in behind reminding me that this is just another day of the same old shit as yesterday. Although there was an added kicker this morning because I awoke in the knowledge that it is Fathers Day, in the real world, and the simple reminder of that brought a crescendo of guilt crashing down on me as I again realised that another normally celebrated day in the family calendar had been trashed, for everyone, by me.
As is so often the case however, especially on a weekend morning, after a fourteen hour period in lock down the doors being opened throughout the wing can be similar to the cork exploding from the champagne bottle as a population deprived of human interaction for such a long period, beyond shouting from window to window like a bad episode of The Waltons, rush to catch up with each other creating a cacophony of chatter which makes the thought of a long lie a pleasant thought but nothing more.
There is also music first thing, normally loud music. Yesterday I awoke to Mr Brightside, a brilliant tune even in here, but today I was gobsmacked when some brave warrior decided to start the day paying homage to a Swedish supergroup who were singing about calling their partner from Glasgow, that beautiful Swedish woman is not the only one who is sick and tired of everything. But as Supertrouper quickly segued into Dancing Queen I realised I had indeed crossed the Rubicon into another land of strange reality. And I must confess at that point I found myself strangely lifted by the music and smiling at the madness of it all. And then my cell experienced two quick invasions the first of which happened whilst Freda and Agnetha were still sharing the thought that – you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life – as it was my turn according to the prison computer to have a random cell search.
That short interruption to early morning musical madness was quickly followed by the arrival in my cell of three of the wings young guns who declared they were looking for a favour. The warning antennae were now screaming in my ears only to be defused when I discovered that the favour was of a palatable nature. Essentially I was asked to help write a letter, in response to, a social work department letter outlining this young fathers position in relation to his young child. We agreed a strategy and they left to make an initial draft which I could then read over and hopefully add some language to it that might not damage his case.
Invasions over it was back to Fathers Day behind bars. It was time to distract myself and I set about cleaning my cell from top to bottom as many do in here at the weekend. I’ve noticed that a couple of the guys in here who are ex forces are particularly fastidious when it comes to standards of cleanliness in both personal and property. I’m guessing in some way they miss that routine in their lives but that could be amateur hour psycho babble bullshit on my part.
The family visited today, as they do three times a week, and it was just fantastic to see them. I thought I knew everything about them but their ability to manage this situation has blown me away. The difficulty and trauma is there for me to see but their capacity to carry on their everyday lives is astounding, although they explain it as existing more than managing. They handed in Fathers Day cards and letters, which will get to me tomorrow with a bit of luck after they have been processed, and I can look forward to getting lost in their wonderful ramblings tomorrow evening. Looking forward to that and then knowing I’ll sit and reply to them all offers a mental carrot at the end of what will be another long day of mind numbing existence.
It was very kind of FIFA to put on three football games today to add further distraction from the boredom. Without books and the odd bit of TV I genuinely think my mind would quit. But with The World Cup, Wimbledon and The Open Golf all to enjoy this summer I’ve created a sporting countdown, of sorts, as opposed to ticking off boxes on a calendar. All being well I’ll be home halfway through the Champions League group stages. It’s not long if you manage to delude yourself sufficiently.
Thanks to everyone who has continued to read our blog, shared the content with friends and colleagues and who continue to engage with us particularly through social media.
As always we would be delighted if you share the blog with anyone in your world you feel it would appeal to and we also welcome comments via our Contact Form at any time.
Have a wonderful day, a great week and remember if all is gloom think of Abba it’s strangely therapeutic @firsttimeinside out.