The Network has been working since its opening, with HMP The Verne, providing on request guidance on LGBT+ engagement support to both residents and staff, including assisting (through our Chair) on the monthly LGB&T residents group meetings, and through our Lead Officer on guidance to tackle communication issues and related needs and strategy. This has been deeply appreciated, and in due course over a year ago led to our groundbreaking work, at the neighbouring HMP & YOI Portland, through the invitation of the Quality Assurance lead of the HMPPS regional organisation.
At the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, the Network was requested by HMPPS to provide specific guidance on the LGBT+ impacting dimensions of the virus and related containment measures. This has had a mitigating and improving impact in regard to both resident and staff LGBT+ context issues, preventing or minimising the latter. For this HMPPS have expressed their great appreciation, relaying to us how they applied the guidance and its valuable benefits.
Towards the end of 2020 we were further contacted by the prison group quality assurance lead requesting a deepening of the relationship and assistance with guidance on support and training, and providing a set of introductions at HMP & YOI Portland to strategic and frontline leads, which in turn has led to important virtual meetings to plan out, implementation of a new phase of guidance and support (including assistance on training of staff, resident engagement groups, and troubleshooting). We are looking forward greatly to providing this further support in and from the February, March period, consolidating and expanding the exceptional start that has already been made at HMP & YOI Portland, and taking further our work at HMP The Verne.
We salute the two prisons genuine and fulsome approach to embracing LGBT+ engagement and anti-discrimination measures, which will in the new phase of direct multi faceted collaboration with the Network on best practice aspirations and guiding values.