The Halcrow Foundation funds projects that are run by charities in Africa, Asia and the UK. As the Covid-19 outbreak reaches more countries around the world, we look at how our charity partners are changing the way they work to protect the communities they support.
The Prison Phoenix Trust supports prisoners and prison staff in the UK and Republic of Ireland through teaching yoga and meditation via workshops, correspondence, books and newsletters.
By regularly attending classes and practising yoga, inmates learn to relax and focus on reducing anxiety and stress while living in a restricted, crowded environment. This not only improves their mental health, but helps them deal better with life outside the prison walls. However as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, prison regimes have changed. Prisoners can only leave their cells for showers, phone calls and brief daily exercise outside, and for most this means at least 23 hours in their cell each day.
How Prison Phoenix Trust is supporting the UK prison community during the Covid-19 outbreak
By producing a set of free, downloadable handouts, the Prison Phoenix Trust is able to continue offering yoga and mediation to prisoners and maintain its connection with prisons. Each handout is a short yoga or mediation practice, with an emphasis on pictures to cater for people with lower levels of literacy. The handouts focus on specific problems the prisoner may be facing, such as anxiety or limited space. So far 30 institutions have downloaded these materials, with more doing so each day.
The charity is also continuing to posts book packs and corresponding by letter to people who ask for help setting up yoga and mediation practice. From mid-March to mid-April, demand for these services rose by two thirds from the previous month. This meant 415 packages and letters were sent out despite only having one staff member in the office and all volunteers working from home.
Yoga teachers who work in the prisons are receiving training online. They continue to support the charity by donating money from their virtual yoga classes, or running free weekly classes for prison staff so they can access the yoga class they would normally do in their lunch break.
Find out more about the Prison Phoenix Trust’s work and donate here.