Who are they?
Family Ties Transport is a bus service dedicated to those who have loved ones spending time within the prison system. Their motivation is to assist in the process of closing the gap between families, who can be driven apart by having a loved one in prison.
The founder of the service Andre Aymer, came up with the idea whilst doing his second stint in prison. During this time, he recognised that there was a problem, and decided that he wanted to at least try and fix it. He said,”It was because I realised during prison visits from family, that it tended to be the same faces that obtained visits, there is only a selected amount of people in each jail who’s family can afford a visit in most cases, thismade my brain tick, as well as the guilt I felt from the amount I knew people spent to visit me I realised what the problem was….. MONEY”
Being an ex prisoner himself, Andre is fully aware of the downward spiral that can be caused by a limitation of visits, or no visits at all. “I know the direct feeling of receiving or not receiving support whilst being away, it can lead to resentment and the feeling of being abandoned which will affect the prisoner once released.”
What do they do?
Currently, the service is focused on the domestic side of visits. Some prisoners are put in prisons which are miles, and miles away from the family home, and some are extremely tricky and awkward to get to, especially on public transport. The financial, emotional, and time cost of visiting family and friends in prison can make an already stressful situation worse.
The main basis of the project is in the name ‘Family Ties’, it is designed with the sole purpose to help maintain that supportive family connection, throughout the period of time in which a loved one is serving a custodial prison sentence.
Those who may benefit from the scheme include, but are not limited to, the elderly, who will struggle to change between buses and trains, mothers travelling with children, non confident drivers, or those who suffer with anxiety when travelling to new places.
There is currently a 16 seater and a 9 seater minibus, which collect from Stratford. A timetable is published detailing what days and times pick up is arranged for each prison, you simply select and book the slot that you would like, for the prison you want to visit, and turn up on time. Family Ties Transport will take you to the prison, wait for your visit to end, and then return you back to the drop off/ pick up point.
How do I find out more?
Obviously due to current restrictions, Family Ties Transport is not currently planning visits, however, they plan to resume business as usual as soon as possible.
I think that this is a wonderful project, and can really become useful, if not vital, in the bigger plan of keeping families connected, which is something that Prison Phone feel very passionate about!
Projects like this rely on support in order to grow and become more valuable to the community, so please, in order to keep in touch with them and their developments, sign up to their newsletter, by clicking this link.