‘Santa consuls’ donate books to foreign prisoners

In the spirit of the Festive Season consuls collected foreign language books at the Embassy Consular Conference to restock the prison library at Maidstone and Huntercombe prisons, which are exclusively for foreign national prisoners.

A huge consignment of books – in languages as diverse as Estonian, French, Thai, Korean, Polish, German and Portuguese and more – were delivered by Rowland Brothers International to the prisons in December.

Thanking the consuls, the Governor of HMP David Atkinson said the generosity of the consuls was “heartwarming”.

He also took the opportunity to introduce a new resettlement initiative, called ‘Steps to the Gate’– a two-week interactive course on a ‘virtual campus’ to help foreign nationals prepare for returning to their country of origin, particularly those who have not lived in their country since childhood and have no family networks there.

The course involves providing the returning foreign national with basic information such as finding accommodation, opening a bank account, applying for a driver’s licence or accessing services, such as healthcare. Prisoners are offered relevant skills training to aid job placement upon release, and assistance with job-searches with potential employers where possible.

Atkinson and his team are in the process of compiling this information for their database and appealed to consuls to assist them in providing basic information. He has compiled a survey of the type of information needed in the resettlement process.

To receive a copy of the survey or for more information on the Steps To The Gate resettlement programme, email editor@embassymagazine.com
PHOTO: HMP Maidstone Governor Dave Atkinson receives books from Sue Ackeman (RBI), Consular Corps President Joana Gaspar (Portugal) and Embassy Editor Elizabeth Stewart