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Cassie Edmiston, Head of Fundraising | 24 April 2020

Donate to our COVID-19 appeal here

Three weeks ago, I planted some tomato seeds which I’d bought back in 2011. They should have been planted by 2013, but I decided to give them a go.

It was an act of hope and last week a shoot appeared, and filled my heart with joy. Planting something, caring for it, and seeing it grow, has brought me some small happiness in these strange times.

It’s often said that education is like planting a seed, and in times like these, we need to be able to support whatever growth we can.

It is unimaginable what people in prison are experiencing right now, locked in their cells for 23 hours a day. With no visits, education classes cancelled, and limited activities to do in cell, it is undoubtedly an incredibly difficult place to be.

Right now the courses and support PET provides are more vital than ever – giving learners a focus for the long hours in their cells, and offering hope and purpose.

That’s why we need your help to launch our first ever freephone advice line – to support our current learners with their studies, and answer any questions that potential learners, prison staff, or family and friends may have.

Donate to our COVID-19 appeal here

Alex was supported by PET. He told us:

In an environment where prisoners feel isolated and are often bombarded with paperwork, being able to just call an organisation and get advice can relieve a lot of stress.

An advice line is the quickest, most reliable way to offer our support in this crisis – we know that the prison service is working hard to ensure that as many people as possible now have access to a telephone.

By giving our advice team a call, learners like Alex will be able to:

  • Get support with their studies
  • Find information about their assignments and exams
  • Discover free resources available from PET and other organisations
  • Learn more about the courses we offer now and in the future, once the lockdown is lifted.

We’ve already received generous support from a number of grant-making trusts.

Now we need your help to raise the remaining £10,500 to get the advice line up and running for the next four months.

Help launch our Advice Line here

This will ensure PET can provide more support to learners during the lockdown and whilst prison regimes are returning to normal, and gives us time to raise more funds to make the advice line a permanent part of what we offer.

We are all facing a reality which none of us could have imagined a few months ago, and for people working and living in prison it is a particularly frightening time. We must support and thank the key workers in prisons trying to keep people safe in the most challenging of circumstances.

And we have to make sure we do everything possible to help learners like Alex continue to progress despite the lockdown.

As for those of us on the outside, when it’s hard we have to hold on to the video calls, the walks when possible, and the daily rainbow count (my record is 52). And we have to plant seeds wherever we can.

Thank you as always for your support. Take care and stay safe.

Help us launch our advice line – donate to our COVID-19 appeal here.

© Prisoners' Education Trust 2020

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