Supporting People Inside During Covid-19

As the UK goes into lockdown, prisons across England and Wales are also now entering lockdown. Social hours, visits, workshops and educational gatherings will be cancelled, and other detrimental restrictions imposed. It’s key to support and advocate for those inside, as to #FreeThemAll is the only way to prevent mass death from COVID-19. Here are some ways to support.

It’s key to think about the importance of public health and safety measures during Ccovid-19, noting that those already impacted by violent systems such as incarceration will be hit the hardest by the pandemic. We must also recognise that the state is using the crisis to increase surveillance, hard and soft power and other violent measures – and we must push back on these. In addition to putting pressure on decision makers, there are other ways you can take direct action to intervene and support those inside during Covid-19.

You can do all these things without leaving your house!

1. Join our week of action! Each day, we will release a new target to phone, email and tweet at to demand #ReleaseThemAllForPublicHealth

2. Write a card/letter/postcard and post it to Books Beyond Bars! They will send it on to one of the queer people they are in touch with inside. This will ease isolation at a time where many inside are banged up for up to 23.5 hours a day.

Address:
Books Beyond Bars,
PO Box 5554,
Manchester M61 OSQ

3. Follow Blue Blag Life on Instagram (@bluebaglife). They are sharing perspectives from people inside prisons during this crisis. Read and share!

4. Check out COVID19_prisonersolidarity on Instagram (@prisonpandemic) for call outs to write to particular people in prison. Give us a shout if there’s anyone you know inside who might appreciate more mail at this time. Use the Email a Prisoner service if you can’t get to the postbox! As Covid-19 has impacted the Royal Mail with staff shortages, letters may arrive slower, so it is now more important than ever to increase their reach.

5. If you are LGBTQ+ you can get involved with Bent Bars, a letter-writing project for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, gender-variant, intersex, and queer prisoners in Britain.

6. Donate MONEY to the Covid-19 Prisoner Emergency Fund set up by Prisoner Solidarity Network. Phone calls are even more important than ever but they cost a lot! Donate so that people can talk to their families. You can also donate to support LGBTQ+ individuals inside through Bent Bars.

7. Check out this comprehensive resource from our comrades in the states @Beyond_Prison, with various resources for supporting incarcerated people and their loved ones during #COVID19 (and it will be updated regularly). You can also follow @FreeThemAll2020 on Twitter as another great source of updates from the fight in NYC!

8. Advocate: As social-distancing measures increase, it’s important to discount any narratives that equate being within your own home with being in “jail”. Fight for public health measures to not include increased policing. The Prison Industrial Complex runs deep through how our society is orientated to turn to state violence at times of crisis, and we cannot let the police be given power to enact even more violence.