Saturday, 29 October 2011

Spare a Prayer for Our Prisons

In the wake of the rise in the prison population following the recent street riots in several of our cities, the Prison Fellowship are asking all Christians to be more aware of those in prison and those who work in the prison service. 1,300 people have been sent to gaol as a result of the riots meaning that there are now over 86,000 people in prisons and young offender institutions such as HMYOI Deerbolt and Wetherby (both situated in this archdeaconry.) The Fellowship are calling on churches to pray for prisoners, governors, prison staff and their familes as the number of people locked up reaches an all time high in England and Wales. Apparently the number of prisoners is expected to fall to about 83,000 in 2012. 

The Prison Fellowship has a presence in many prisons and I know that volunteers from local churches are certainly active in Deerbolt and at Wetherby. The Fellowship is committed to working to bring down the rates of re-offending through the work of the Sycamore Tree Programme. This well-established programme runs six-session courses in prisons to help offenders think about the effect of their crimes on victims and the offenders themselves and to encourage them to think about restorative justice. Each course is led by a qualified tutor but the programme is always looking for more volunteers to help - there are currently about 1,500, nationwide.

To see what they do and to read the stories of some of the volunteers, go to 

A spokesperson for the Prison fellowship said, 'We are trying to address the issue of breaking the cycle of re-offending by working proactively with those who want to address the causes of their crimes in the first place. As Christians, we believe that prayer is a good place to start.'  

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