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Time for others: prisoners make donations to food bank

'Truly inspiring' effort from inmates at jail which has been hit hard by Covid-19

28 August, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Pentonville custodial manager Solonjie Byfield delivers food bank donations

PRISONERS at Pentonville jail have donated their canteen supplies to a food bank in an act their new governor has dubbed “truly inspiring”.

Ian Blakeman, who took over in December after a string of damning reports from the prison inspectorate, said he was blown away by the inmates’ kindness.

Custodial manager Myrtle Augee, who is also a former world champion powerlifter and represented Britain at the Olympics, came up with the idea of donating to the King’s Cross Church food bank in Pentonville Road.

Mr Blakeman said: “Myrtle set up an appeal in prison to help a local food bank and the returns from prisoners were astronomical. We couldn’t carry all the stuff they gave us. A lot of them were donating their weekly canteen.”

Pentonville prison

He added: “Prisoners have a canteen they can buy various items from, various snacks and things like tuna and biscuits.

“In one wing in particular, pretty much every man on it donated their food.

“I tried shifting the box, and everything that was in there, but we couldn’t at all.

“It was truly inspiring to witness.”

The Caledonian Road prison has been hit hard by Covid-19 – two members of staff, Bovil Peter and Patrick Beckford, died.

“Lots of staff were forced off-duty [and] lots of prisoners got ill. We had quite a major outbreak,” said Mr Blakeman.

The prison has not had a positive Covid-19 case since April. But many inmates are confined to their cells for 23 hours a day and are only let out to wash and exercise.­

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