Family ties was an idea I came up with to try and keep loved ones a little closer and strengthen their bond in troubled times.
Being imprisoned does have an impact on all relationships that the prisoner has left behind. I write this from the perspective of being a prisoner. I wanted to see loved ones but always feeling guilty because of the time, money and effort that goes into a prison visit.
Once being released from prison in 2014 I had already had this idea and had already started trying to write up a business plan with no knowledge but a strong belief that my experience could and would make a difference.
A combination of research and experience of losing loved ones while being away led me to come up with Family Ties and it is designed to keep a closer connection between loved ones and the prisoner serving a custodial prison sentence.
The aim was to get family and friends to these prison establishments in a more cost-effective way and minimum effort, meanwhile giving the prisoner a chance to contribute towards something (completely optional) whilst being away.
The service provided will be the most efficient form of travel when it comes to visiting actual prisons as we will be charging far less than they would pay to get to these destinations individually.
As with all other forms of travel, bar driving will result in an expensive taxi journey from wherever the public transport drops the visitor off. This is also better for the environment as we are using one coach rather than many different vehicles.
A 17-seater will be sufficient enough with the most popular prison visit days being Saturdays Sundays and Wednesdays twice a day (MOSTLY) We found a convenient meeting point in one of the most neutral and easy to get to train stations in London to use as a pick-up / drop off point, carry them to the selected prison, wait for the visit to end and then return them back to the designated station.
We would have a pre-booking system where people can book in advance since people visiting prisons tend to go in a particular pattern be it once a month or once a week etc.
We are starting in London, so I have collected data on the prisons outside of London, that hold the highest number of Londoners. I’ve done qualitative research on how much on average it costs to get there via public transport.
At the end of the journeys, there are further sizeable costs in order to then actually reach the prison, whether it be by taxi or bus services, which run scarcely and so can place another strain on time; especially in relation to syncing such journeys with the actual prison visit times, these are the other difficulties that visitors face.
So, all of the above are the types of stresses we aim to relieve, together with missing the correct train stations, getting on the wrong trains, getting lost, etc.
When weighing up catching our bus service, versus driving, there are many pros for a person who drives, to instead use this service as it saves fuel, unnecessary mileage & wear and tear and repeated long journeys along with helping fewer vehicles to be on the roads.
Once loved ones have a visit booked they would be able to contact us to book a seat be it by email telephone or directly online, Photo id will be needed to confirm the seat along with a confirmation email, no cash will be taken by the driver.
The journey will commence to the establishment where visitors will be dropped to attend visits, once completed we will return the passengers.
Eventually, as the business grows the formula would be 6 journeys per bus (as some establishments are split into separate visiting times/days) to make most of the time since we will be renting vehicles by the week until we can afford our own.
With visits being able to be booked online now we also will be online for bookings as I do believe that the transport portion of visiting someone is 66% of the visiting day
We have pinpointed visiting times and routes to enable us to be able to make these journeys possible
You can check out at www.familytiestransport.co.uk and @familytiestransport on Instagram Facebook and @familytiestran2 on Twitter.
Also, feel free to ask any questions at [email protected]