Listeners @ HMP Pentonville

HM Prison Pentonville
One of the most important and successful outreach programmes run by the branch is our collaborative work with HM Pentonville prison. Prison ‘Listeners’ are essentially prisoners who operate as Samaritans within the prison. 

Since 1993 all local branches have been encouraged to work in partnership with HM prison services, underpinned by the perturbing statistic that people in prison are six times more likely to take their own lives. The first forty-eight hours spent in prison is when people are found to be at their most vulnerable. 

The relationship is based upon a Local Service Level Agreement that sets down parameters for the partnership allowing the offer of appropriate support while understanding the limitations within which both organisations operate – an expression of intent to use best endeavours. 

The relationship between the prison governor, the prison safer-custody officers and our dedicated branch team is one that we are all proud of – all three parties recognising the benefit that the service brings. 

HM Prison Pentonville
Just as with everyone else, prisoners volunteer to become Listeners. Prison security officers must give first approval of their application. Thereafter, the prison outreach team carry out a very similar process of ‘selection’ of volunteers to determine their suitability. The team then completes a training programme with the potential Listeners in order that they may fully understand the demands placed upon them should they successfully complete the course. 

As one might imagine, there are huge pressures placed upon the Listeners within the prison system and that is why the branch volunteers attend weekly meetings with the Listener team and the Safer Custody Officers in order that appropriate levels of support can be continued and everyone can be reassured that the Samaritans’ principles and policies are being maintained.

For more information about the national Listener service, please click here.


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