Simon on the Streets, a local charity for the homeless, is the beneficiary of food and funds raised by inmates at HMP Leeds, helping to feed 50 rough sleepers locally.
The inmates made contact with the charity before Christmas, wanting to make what difference they could. Inmate Joe Outlaw told Simon on the Streets about their Christmas jumper competition, which raised £100 alongside food donations. Joe and another prisoner, Luke, formed System Grown, the aim of which is to spread as much kindness as possible.
Joe’s letter read:
“There is so much pain and suffering in our world at the moment, so much sadness and hurt. We want to show some kindness and love wherever possible and with that ‘System Grown’ was formed.”
Some people who are released after serving their sentence find themselves back on the streets, and some rough sleepers find themselves in prison. In either case, there are huge adjustments needed.
Sean Kelly, Leeds HMP Custodial Manager:
“Joe is an IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) prisoner in our incentivised substance free living (ISFL) wing who came to us asking what he could do to build up his credibility and give something back. We asked him to take on the role of peer support worker to support all 145 inmates in the wing and he has thrived in communicating with fellow prisoners, providing support and resource packs. His workload is immense. Joe comes up with lots of ideas, one of which was prior to Christmas to work with a designated charity to offer food and donations from the ISFL wing via the design a Christmas jumper competition.”
“System Grown has managed to build a link between homelessness and prison, providing help and support for all those people who sadly leave with no home or stability, inevitably to return to prison. [I’d like to offer my] thanks to the amazing work Simon on the Streets do, who dedicate their time to provide food, warmth, support and care to all those suffering on the streets of West Yorkshire.
All the people that Simon on the Streets work with daily, including myself, have no doubt made many mistakes for whatever reason but there is not one single bit of judgement from them. Nothing but love and kindness which in itself is a beautiful thing.”
Natalie Moran, CEO, Simon on the Streets said:
“We were surprised to receive a letter from Leeds prisoners but gladly welcomed Joe, Luke and the other inmates’ support for our cause. A prison may seem like an unlikely place to receive charitable support, but they have been amazing in helping us to feed a further 50 people across the streets of Leeds. Joe has been keeping us updated with further fundraising plans, as well as spreading the word about Simon on the Streets to fellow inmates who may need our help.”
A dedicated board with the winning Christmas jumper and information about Simon on the Streets is being put up in the ISFL wing of Leeds HMP and Joe and Luke plan to continue to fundraise for the charity.