Going into prison for the first time, it takes some adjusting, I can tell you. You have to follow a regime, learn to live in a cell that is 1.8 metres wide and three metres in length and come to realise how little freedom and control you actually have in there.
After a couple of months inside, I began to adjust. I followed the rules, I attended education courses and even had some acquaintances. It was becoming my new normal, until the coronavirus pandemic hit Britain.
Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.
Prison is always in some form of lockdown though, so we as prisoners didn’t think it could get any worse. We were mistaken though. All education was cancelled, trips to the library cancelled and visits from our loved ones were stopped. We were confined to our cells; socialising was brought down to a minimum and daily exercise was limited.
You would try and keep your mind busy and yourself occupied but there’s only so much reading you can do. Only so much television you can watch, especially when you’re limited to eight channels that begin to show the same programmes over and over again.
We were told not to watch the news, but that was all we could do to keep in the know about the outside world. Officers would keep us updated when they came in – about having to queue to get into supermarkets, and how it was like an apocalypse out there.