This post was written in December, but due to technical difficulties publication was delayed!
When I arrived at Emmaus Mossley (Manchester) the other day to take part in their Christmas Fair several Companions were hard at work building a new kitchen. Many years ago we took over an old mill, renovated it as best we could and now it is home for over 20 men and women and also the site for the Emmaus shop. I spent the night in the one spare room and next morning joined in as members of the public came along for the Fair.
‘Emmaus has made such a difference to Mossley’ said one lady. ‘It’s brought us together and is a real meeting place.’ Local musicians played throughout the day and even invited me to sing along with them! I did so as the last act of the day which was fortunate as we may have lost many friends had I gone on earlier!
Just before going to Manchester I called at Risley Prison near Warrington where I had been invited to open a new Health Care Facility. The King’s Fund, a leading agency in the Health Care Field became interested in Prison Health and agreed to support the building of a new facility in the prison. Prisoners along with outside contractors worked together and produced a greatly improved reception area. Many prisoners suffer health problems and if proper care can be delivered in prison then they do stand a better chance once they are finally discharged into the outside world. Contrary to what many people believe prison is no soft option. It is very hard to lose liberty and to be confined particularly when your family may be experiencing hardship on the outside. I can only hope that as the cuts begin to take place we will not cut rehabilitation work inside. It is vital for us all.
Broadmore, Ashworth and Rampton are three institutions in this country which most people will never set foot in thank goodness. They are not prisons but secure hospitals for the criminally insane. Several days ago at the invitation of the Nottingham Health Authority I spend a day in Rampton being taken round by the Medical Director. Here in this place located in the depth of the countryside live some of the most dangerous people in the country and day after day, night after night they are cared for by a group of specialist nurses and staff. Mental health is a major problem in our country and most people do not realise what a serious problem it is. Naturally Rampton has to be kept locked and surrounded by a secure fence but every attempt has been made to make it more like a hospital or home than a prison. I have to say that I felt a sense of pride that the staff got on with their demanding work with little recognition from the public at large. It is not unknown for them to be attacked by deranged patients and often they can work for years without seeing any significant results. The quality of a country can in part be measured by the way in which it cares for the most vulnerable and we can be proud of what is done in Rampton and elsewhere. I hope to go back shortly to have further meeting with staff and patients.
My son,who teaches PE in London recently returned from taking a group of students on a Rugby Tour of New Zealand and Fiji and so we both leapt at the chance when Scottish Rugby invited us to Edinburgh to watch Scotland play South Africa. The conditions were terrible, pouring rain and a biting wind, but to the great joy of every Scotsman alive Scotland beat the World Champions! At the dinner afterwards the defeated team looked pretty glum but were cheered when in a speech the President of Scottish Rugby said that the following week every Scotsman would be behind them when they played England. Needless to say they won that match!