MTC UK Creates “Departure Lounges” to Prepare People for Success After Release
Our work in the United Kingdom involves helping more than 30,000 probationers and parolees who are trying to transition back to society. We have approximately 1,000 staff in London and the Thames Valley area who work one-on-one with men and women with a goal to help them be successful in their lives and never return to prison. This work begins in the prisons, shortly before they’re released from custody.
Recently, our staff launched a new initiative to enhance our efforts to successfully transition men and women from prison. Our teams in England set up “Departure Lounges” at several prisons. These lounges were set up as a suitably social distanced meeting place with all the information discharged prisoners may need to help them start their journey to begin their new life.
Ali Barker who serves as custody director for MTC UK says, “The Departure Lounges are a brilliant example of partnership working between the prisons and the MTC Through the Gate (TtG) resettlement teams. They ensure that 100% of prisoners returning to the community in these challenging times are getting up-to-date resettlement support and advice at the most critical moment (as well as all the preparatory work before this).”
The Departure Lounges were created to better deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Access to incarcerated men and women has become more difficult as they spend more time in their cells to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. MTC UK staff are putting resettlement information packs and questionnaires under cell doors and following up with conversations where they can. Some cells have phones, in which case MTC staff speak directly to the individuals about the resources that are available to help them once they’re released.
In some cases, these Departure Lounges are located just outside the prison gates. Men and women who are released can quickly and safely meet with MTC UK staff to ensure they have the resources they need before re-integrating into society. And for those who do not have a cell phone, MTC UK provides them with a phone so they can continue providing help and resources to them while maintaining a safe social distance.