For International Day of Families, Margaret Doherty, Founder/Chair, Mental Health Matters 2 Ltd, wrote a proem ''Reflections on a(nother) prison visit'. Our themed collection for International Day of Families can be read here.


'Reflections on a(nother) prison visit'

Margaret Doherty, Founder/Chair, Mental Health Matters 2 Ltd 

It perched cheekily on the curled razor wire, curious, as we obediently queued.

It sang as we moved slowly forward, as our lenses were scanned, bodies wanded, babies’ nappies checked. 

Those receiving the approving sniff from the drug dogs moved forward. 

Those who didn’t, taken aside.

The Willy Wagtail (Djiti Djiti) watched all from outside.

Keeping guard over the open, no-man’s land between the Family Visitors area and the place where they are securely contained, warehoused in their misery and despair.

Set aside from society for breaking the rules, being the wrongdoers of our community.

No obvious consequence for the systems who broke the rules of providing care to vulnerable citizens, despite entreaties for help from family. 

Accountability and consequences seem to run in one direction.


Little sympathy for the ‘wrongdoers’ outside these high walls.

Sometimes too little sympathy within.

Too little understanding about poverty, mental health, trauma, disability.

What brought us here.

About how life can take any one of us on a journey never envisaged.

Sometimes care is there from humane individuals despite their own helplessness as ‘the system’ trundles on, seemingly impervious to any intervention.

Their humanity is a balm in this desolate space, even if what is shared is hopelessness.

Strangely validating.


Little understanding for us either.  

‘Dysfunctional families’ who were clearly derelict in our duties. 


So, they wait within for those weekly moments of face-to-face connection; of the bringing of hope from outside these impenetrable walls.

Too often unable to stay in the visit for long. 

Sitting in these loud spaces tense with emotion meant their mental health was triggered.

So, just a short visit today then.

Enough to sustain us both until next time.

Worth the trek it takes to this place deliberately placed away from society, away from public transport.

And so, the trek becomes a weekly pilgrimage.

Because love endures beyond these walls.

And the Willy Wagtail soars over the wire. 




Please Sign in (or Register) to view further.