In my role as MP I serve all my constituents, those who voted for me, those who didn't, those who are living well and those who have fallen on hard times. It I also help constituents of mine who are serving sentences in prison.
Recently I was contacted by a constituent who was struggling with concerns relating to his sexuality. He wanted support from the LGBT community and he wanted to discuss some practical concerns about his HIV health status with somebody who was not his GP.
In many prisons there is a system whereby prisoners can make use of helplines for free. These helplines have been vetted for quality and safety and are routinely checked by the Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service. This particular constituent of mine did not have access to any helplines for HIV or LGBT support.
With this in mind, I contacted both the prison and the Prisons Minister to follow up. I am pleased to say the prison is now offering helpline access to both the Terrence Higgins Trust and the National Aids Helpline and the prison is reviewing the list of organisations that prisoners who identify as LGBT can access confidentially. The prison also has an Equalities rep will engage with prisoners in the interim.
I was also pleased to see that the Prison's Minister, the Prisons Service and Public Health England have agreed to work together to review the list of available helplines over summer to help ensure that prisoners can access support whilst behind bars all across our prison network, be it for health and equalities, famimly support, adjusting to life in prison or preparing for housing, work and re-integration upon leaving prison.
I hope this will lead to prisoners accessing the support they need before they reach crisis point and be better equipped to re-join society once their sentence has ended.
In addition to this there is a new independent HIV Commission to end HIV transmissions in England by 2030. It has full Government endorsement and aims to generate evidence-based recommendations to end HIV transmissions and HIV attributed deaths in England within the next ten years. I look forward to seeing the recommendations.
For more information on the Commission visit
Or if you need HIV support call the helplines below
Terence Higgins Trust: 0808 802 1221
National AIDS Helpline: 0800 567123