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New health and wellbeing forum for Norwich Prison

PUBLISHED: 13:49 29 October 2012 | UPDATED: 14:06 29 October 2012

A prisoner on a landing at Norwich Prison; Photo: Bill Smith.

A prisoner on a landing at Norwich Prison; Photo: Bill Smith.

Archant © 2009

A group which champion’s the rights of patients has set up what are believed to be the first Eastern region health and wellbeing forum in a prison.

The meetings at HMP Norwich bring together prisoner representatives, prison staff and health care providers to discuss how to alleviate incidents of stress and anxiety which can detrimentally affect the mental health and rehabilitation of prisoners.

The forums were set up by Norfolk Local Involvement Network (LINk), which carried out a study in 2011, where volunteers spoke to prisoners at four prisons in Norfolk and Suffolk to see how access to mental health care services could be improved. It is estimated that up to 90pc of the UK’s prison population suffer from a mental health condition.

Norfolk LINk’s findings were published in two reports, which were backed by television personality Stephen Fry who has spoken publicly about his battle with bipolar disorder. One recommendation was to form a pilot health and wellbeing forum at HMP Norwich, with the hope it could be replicated in other prisons across the region, and also nationwide.

Norfolk LINk will initially facilitate the meetings, which happen every six weeks, with the aim of handing over the future running of the project to prisons.

Volunteer Mark Ganderton, of the Norfolk LINk prisons project group, said: “The reaction we got from prisoners during our study was that this is a service which is much needed. Before the forum, there wasn’t an independent platform to air their views on health and wellbeing issues.”

To read Norfolk LINk’s findings from its 2011 study, visit www.norfolklink.org.uk.

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