Prisons Week

For more than forty years Prisons Week has prepared prayer literature to enable the Christian community, through individuals and churches, to pray for the needs of all those affected by prisons: prisoners and their families, victims of crime and their communities, those working in the criminal justice system and the many people who are involved in caring for those affected by crime on the inside and outside of our prisons.

Prisons Week raises awareness and generates prayer. It motivates volunteers to step forward and give their time and gifts, in prisons and in their own communities. It provides an annual focus and reason for Christians to work together, building capacity and motivation to make a difference for people who are out of sight and often out of mind.

Prisons Sunday – the second Sunday in October – marks the beginning of the week of prayer each year, running through until the following Saturday.

A week of prayer

Prisons Week aims to encourage prayer and awareness of the needs of prisoners and their families, victims of offenders, prisons staff and all thosewho care, reflected in the Prisons Week Prayer offered throughout the week:

Lord, you offer freedom to all people.
We pray for those in prison.
Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist.
Support with your love prisoners and their families and friends,
prison staff and all who care.
Heal those who have been wounded by the activities
of others, especially the victims of crime.
Help us to forgive one another.
To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with Christ
in His strength and in His Spirit, now and every day. Amen.

Each day of the week, a new prayer brings into focus a different group affected by prison or criminal justice. Churches and individuals are alsoasked to reflect on what they might do or offer as part of their response, through the range of Christian agencies and charities involved in supporting Prisons Week.

Looking back

Prisoners’ Week began in England and Wales in 1975. The Prisoners’ Week Committee, consisting of Prison Chaplains and other Christians involved in work with prisoners and their families, was formed to encourage prayer within churches and the wider Christian community for the needs ofprisoners. They produced a prayer and information leaflet for use on the third Sunday in November, designated Prisoners’ Sunday, with the weekobserved until the following Saturday.

It had its beginnings as a Roman Catholic initiative started by Bishop Victor Guazzelli, but quickly gained ecumenical support and became an ecumenical observance, receiving the patronage of: The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Westminster, the Archbishop of Wales and the Moderator of the Free Churches Group.

In 1993 Prisoners’ Week became a registered charity and in 1995, seeking to focus attention not only on the needs of prisoners but on all those involved and affected by prison (including prisoners families, victims of crime, prison staff, those working in other parts of criminal justice and many volunteers) the week became known as Prisons Week, and the committee known as the Prisons Week Committee.

Board of reference

The Board of Reference and smaller Working Group consist of representatives of Christian denominations and Christian organisations working in prisons or supporting prisons ministry. All members are voluntary (there are no paid staff), meeting several times a year to guide and continue the work of Prisons Week.

Current members of the Board of Reference:

Chris Auckland – Bible Society
Gareth Barton – Spread Creative
Jenny Bond – Churches Together in England Claire Bonham – Trustee
Tim Bryan – Adviser on Prison Chaplaincy to Bishop of Southwark
Canon Paul Douthwaite – Catholic Bishops Conference
Becki Gillies – Clean Sheet
Emily Green – The Welcome Directory
Helen Greenwood – Caring for Ex Offenders Ali Hancock – Langley House Trust

Paul Hargreaves – HMPPS Chaplaincy HQ Stephen Hawkins – Prison Fellowship (Trustee) Richard Hearn – Trustee
Gary Hopkins – Methodist Church
Paul Johnson – Salvation Army
Pauline Mack – Yellow Ribbon
Ian and Evie Mair – Good News for Everyone Lois Momoh – Nehemiah Project
Emma Mortoo – PACT (Prison Advice and Care Trust)
Joanne O’Connor – Junction 42
Steve Page – Alpha in Prisons

Tim Rosier (Chair) – Lecturer in Community & Social Studies, Youth Justice & Radicalisation Ben Ryan – Church of England
Rachel Shackleton – Spurgeons
Tracy Sickel – Imago Dei Prison Ministry
David Spademan – AoG and Prison Chaplain Emily Spademan – Youth for Christ
Emma Wells – Community Chaplaincy Association
Bob Wilson (Chair of Trustees) – Free Churches Faith Advisor to HMPPS
Kathleen Wilson – Mothers Union