Birmingham has an active Resettlement Unit which concentrates on housing, benefits and employment issues, using extensive links with the outside community. The Resettlement Team and the Information, Advice & Guidance Team deliver a basic employability course which provides support and guidance to help prisoners secure employment and training on release. The Resettlement Team are also supported by staff from Job Centre Plus and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The prison’s library service is provided by Birmingham Libraries. All prisoners have weekly timetabled access to the library and sessions last for 45 minutes. There is an extensive legal collection and facilities for independent learners. The stock is wide-ranging with special collections of employment, health, community information, ESOL (English Speakers of other Languages) and basic skills materials. There is also a learning centre within the library to provide additional learning support with dyslexia, ESOL and various courses.
The prison provides a range of accredited and non-accredited courses including:
- – Drug awareness
- – TSP Thinking Skills Programme
- – SDP – Short Duration Programme
- – Stress management
- – Alcohol awareness
- – Family Man
Gymnasium and sports: Physical Education (PE) is provided on a daily basis over a seven day period and evenings over five days. The PE provided falls into several categories including those with special needs, full/part-time, recreational PE, coached sports and games, healthy living and substance treatment unit.
There are a number of sports delivered and also sports related subjects from basic skills to NVQ Level 2 in Sports and Recreation. The accredited courses are provided at differing levels offering the opportunity for progression and range from personal performance awards to nationally recognised vocational training. The department has extremely strong links with other regime providers including the chaplaincy, healthcare, resettlement and education.
Chaplaincy: there are five full-time chaplains (Roman Catholic, Church of England, Free Church and Muslim). There are also part-time staff including Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu chaplains. Birmingham has a very diverse chaplaincy team offering a wide range of pastoral care/support to prisoners and staff. The chaplaincy team also deliver the Sycamore Tree project which is a victim awareness course.
The Library is open 7 days a week. All prisoners receive a weekly timetabled visit and all new admissions to the establishment attend an induction session. The Prison Library runs reading groups and poetry workshops with authors and poets often interacting with prisoners. There is a reading group run in conjunction with the prison’s CARATS team. The library staff administer Turning Pages scheme run by The Shannon Trust. This is a scheme to teach prisoners to read.
In HMP Birmingham the catering is provided by Aramark. The menu rotates on a four weekly basis concentrating on promoting healthy choices whilst catering for all dietary, ethnic and special diets as prescribed by the prison doctor. Food is ordered via a weekly pre-select system and the choices are delivered to the units by a hot trolley system.
Drug Support Service
The prison works with prisoners overcome their substance misuse while in custody. Full-time CARAT workers (Counselling, Assessment, Referral, Advice and Throughcare) offer support to prisoners both during custody and after release. Provision of service also includes group work interventions, ranging from individual drugs to complete relapse prevention programmes. The team run a number of psychosocial courses including:-
- – Relaxation techniques
- – Harm reduction issues
- – Drug awareness
- – Clinical interventions to support recovery
- – Alcohol awareness
- – Healthy living and healthy balanced diet
The Integrated Drug Treatment System [IDTS] aims to increase the volume and quality of treatment available to prisoners who are assessed as requiring treatment for drug misuse, with particular emphasis on early custody. This is a Clinical service which work closely with the CARAT Team and outside services to deliver care and support to prisoners. The management of continuity of treatment is therefore vital, and the Integrated Drug Treatment System for prisons is designed to facilitate continuity at both points of a period of custody: reception of individuals who are in current receipt of treatment, and release of IDTS clients with continuity of treatment needs. The Short Duration Programme is also available for suitably assessed prisoners who are either on remand, waiting a sentence, or with sentences of 12 months or less. This is predominately for prisoners who have a history of substance dependence, and the aim of the programme is reduce their risks associated with substance use. The team work in liaison with the CARAT team and Compact Based Drug Testing (CBDT). The aim of the programme is to Reduce Reoffending, and Reduce Substance Misuse and Related Deaths.
Compact Based Drug Testing (CBDT) is a voluntary drug testing programme in operation that involves a prisoner making a commitment to remain drug free and signing a compact to that effect. It is important to build on every prisoner’s commitment to remain drug free as the greater the number of drug free prisoners, the closer the prison moves to becoming a drug free environment and of benefit to all prisoners. In turn this should reduce the demand for drugs in the prison.
At HMP Birmingham the healthcare services are commissioned by Birmingham and Solihull NHS Cluster PCT and provided by Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust providing a full range of primary, mental health and substance misuse services. The healthcare centre is operational at all times and is staffed by a dedicated team of doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, dentists and allied health professionals.