What did you do during Lockdown? It’s a question we’re all likely to get asked in the years to come. I spent almost three months of lockdown working from home, working on paintings, processing internet orders and my Junction 42 work .
The Junction 42 work consisted of regular phone calls to my clients to make sure they have been coping with lockdown and the effects of social isolation. I also helped to get them booked on to online courses. Courses have included Civil Engineering Level 1, IT Level 1, Employability and Mental Health Awareness.
When lockdown started, Junction 42 received a request from the UK prison service for 12,000 Faith packs. Each Faith Pack included a worship CD, a Word for Today daily devotional, a prayer journal, Psalm 91, scripture art and some coloured pencils. Prisoners have been spending 23.5 hours a day in their cells. The Faith Packs quickly became a valuable resource to help them endure this difficult time. Susan and I helped to put up over 900 of the packs, with some help from my parents.
The testimonies from prison chaplains and inmates were so positive, that Junction 42 received another order for a further 32,000 Faith Packs! This represents over half the UK prison population. Junction 42 also received 43,000 Gideon Bibles to go in to each of the new Faith Packs. It was a massive task but was fulfilled with the help of over 275 volunteers. The second wave of packs contained a Bible from the Gideons, Worship CD’s, 4 Points Prayer Card, Hope for All Magazine, UCB Word for Today, the Father’s Love Letter, and a “Cross in My Pocket” cross stitch activity pack.
I’ve also developed some art exercises for some “in cell creative packs” for the prisons. These have included step by step exercises on how to draw portraits which I have talked about on a previous blog post. I’ve also helped to produce step by step tutorials on how to paint seascapes and landscapes using watercolour pencils.
Although I missed not being in the office and going into the prisons, I’ve been as busy as ever. Apart from helping to put up the Faith Packs and supervising volunteers, since mid June I’ve been meeting up with my clients near where they live, and going for socially distanced walks. This has been a great opportunity to talk about their issues, struggles and to discuss their goals and dreams. It’s more of a coaching style of support which I think will be even more fruitful.
Department of Work and Pensions
We are hoping to get a new contract soon from the Department of Work and Pensions soon which will enable us to take on a new caseload of clients. We do rely on these contracts to help pay towards our salaries. Our salaries also are made up from generous donations from personal supporters which are so much appreciated.
These are challenging times for everyone. How we handle this will be a test of character and resolve. However, I’m confident that good things will happen in the months to come.