Content Warning: This audio drama contains strong language, and references to self harm, mental health issues, and drug use.
"And then I feel like there’s no air and everything just feels tight."
Walking the Wing, by Sophia Hatfield, is an audio drama about incarceration in England during the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020, created with men serving prison sentences, prison staff, and people with lived experience of the criminal justice system.
In March 2020 the UK Prison Service began operating an Exceptional Regime Management Plan to try and prevent a mass COVID 19 outbreak in the prison estate. The realities of this regime for people who are incarcerated has often meant periods of prolonged isolation, a lack of family contact, limited access to showers and outdoor space, and very little engagement in education and rehabilitation activities. This has prompted widespread concern around the human rights, wellbeing, and mental health of those held in prison and the increased pressure on the prison system.
In December 2021, some 22 months on from that first lockdown, prison regimes have begun to relax, but not anywhere close to where they were pre-pandemic. Furthermore, the recent emergence of the Omicron variant may force prisons back into further periods of highly restricted regimes. This presents a very real threat to the already fragile mental health of many prisoners and staff.
The views expressed in this drama are representative of the wider prison system rather than HMP Hewell specifically.