Celebrating Eid in Prison

Celebrating Eid in Prison

“I think that it is important for everyone to feel recognised, that is why I organised this celebration of diversity. This is especially crucial in prisons like mine where the population predominantly celebrates this holiday”

Max is an Unlocked participant from the 2020 cohort who is currently working in a long term and high security estate. This year Max organised a variety of activities to celebrate Eid in his prison. He talks about his experience:

“The idea for celebrating Eid in my establishment came from a conversation with a prisoner about planning for a visit with his wife around the time of Eid. He said there was no provision for extra visits like there was around Christmas, so it was getting very difficult to organise. We spoke about Eid and quickly realised that, despite the establishment having a high number of Muslim prisoners, we never did anything to celebrate Eid.

I am an Equalities Representative for my wing, so I met with our Equalities Manager, the Head of Residence, and a couple of the establishment’s Imams to talk about this issue. We created a plan for Eid that would show our commitment to celebrating equality and diversity at the establishment, and I took it to Unlocked through their Innovation Acceleration Programme (IAP) where participants can apply for pots of money for innovative mission-aligned projects.

Taking inspiration from the establishment’s Christmas celebrations, we decorated the wing with banners and posters to make the celebration feel more positive for staff and prisoners. We got Eid cards and put on extra visits to better connect Muslim prisoners with their families, and we provided baklava and Turkish delights for all prisoners and staff to engage with the celebration in a unique way. Finally, we got a discounted meal for all staff to highlight the establishment’s commitment to celebrating a diverse staffing group

It was tough to organise all of this, and it meant liaising with several departments to approve the plan and everything I was going to order in. It was key to start early and work with all staff to share the workload along the way. In this process it was highlighted that many members of staff did not know why Eid was celebrated and were generally unaware of how difficult it was for Muslims to fast during Ramadan. Having consistent cultural events like this which show how committed the establishment, HMPPS, and Unlocked are to celebrating and improving our diversity and inclusion.

Celebrating Eid this year is a first at my establishment. Muslim prisoners and staff have said they are excited about the celebration, and everything we have done already has made them feel recognised and valued. One Imam told me he has never seen the prison feel so positive at Eid. A prisoner explained that he had never really been represented in prison as a Muslim and this whole celebration meant so much to him. Other staff and prisoners have been able to learn about Ramadan and Eid through the posters – and they were more than keen to get involved with the sweet food on the day! It has been a success and people are already talking about doing something similar next year.

Eid Mubarak to all those who celebrated!”