Books to beat isolation

It’s not difficult to imagine how hard the first night of a prison sentence must be. Isolation and unfamiliarity make the days before routines are established emotionally and mentally trying.

Our project Books for First Nighters, which began in 2017, aims to offer some comfort and mental release through books during these first key days. It gives an opportunity to choose – and keep – a book from a thoughtfully curated selection from Give a Book.  A book serves as both a much-needed distraction and a point of positive interaction between staff and new residents.

This need has never been more keenly felt than during the past year, with prisons in almost constant lockdown due to Covid-19.

The Hunger Games - Wikipedia

Libraries, gyms, visits, education, and other activities in prisons have been suspended for long periods of time, further highlighting the importance of reading for pleasure.

“Although not a reader on the ‘outside’; he was grateful to be able to choose books on the Induction Wing. He said The Hunger Games immediately caught his attention as his daughter had read the book and insisted on him watching the film with her. He told me he was enjoying the book and his daughter was so happy when they discussed it on the phone!”

We make sure to send varied selections of books which appeal to a wide range of readers, whatever their interests or reading abilities.

“It was lovely to see the guys so enthusiastic about looking through the titles and so grateful to have some new reading material. At such a difficult time with Covid, it makes a real difference to them that a) people on the outside are thinking of them, and b) that they have the opportunity to escape with a book”

Throughout 2020-21 we have started working with several new prisons on this project, and now support over 30 adult male, female and Young Offender prisons with Books For First Nighters.

“At present – with women isolating – the books have been very important and prove very popular.  Without your support I wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand.  Titles are always varied and interesting.

Find out more here.


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