2021 is the eighth year of our involvement in Prisons Week of Prayer – a national, ecumenical initiative to raise awareness and generate prayer for all those affected by imprisonment – including children and families, victims, communities as well as prisoners, those who work in prisons and the wider criminal justice system. It’s also an important reminder of how Spurgeons faith basis connects with our day-to-day work.
Supported by the major church denominations and Spurgeons and other leading Christian organisations in the sector, Prisons Week has prepared prayer resources for over forty years, to use both on the inside and outside of prison walls.
Following on from last year’s theme ‘You are not alone’, this year’s is based on the encouragement from Jesus in Luke 12:24 to understand the value of each individual person to God.
‘Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!’ There’s also a powerful four-minute film on the theme at www.prisonsweek.org and an online panel discussion on Tuesday 12th October at 7pm, chaired by Rt Rev’d Rachel Treweek, Anglican Bishop to Prisons (booking on the same website).
Over the years at Spurgeons, we’ve found that Prisons Week can motivate new volunteers to come forward to give their time and skills in prisons and in their own communities. It’s also a good opportunity for Christians of different traditions to work and pray together, remembering people who are out of sight and often out of mind. It has helped us to strengthen our links with prison chaplains, Mothers Union and Prison Fellowship, as well as with local churches who want to find ways to support children and families of prisoners.
Finally, here’s something hot off the press to look out for in Prisons Week next year…! During the last month or so, our staff in prisons have been encouraging the dads they work with to use creative arts, including writing, drawing and music, to express what’s important to them in their relationships with their children. ‘The Art of being a Dad’ is still at an early stage but we plan to develop this over the coming months, so that next year we can work with interested local churches and others to host mini-exhibitions, giving more people an opportunity to see and hear for themselves the impact of imprisonment on children and families’ lives.
About Spurgeons Prison-based Family Support Services:
Spurgeons delivers family support services in 12 prisons across England. These services provide family support services for prisoners and their families and friends who visit them, with a particular focus on children and strengthening family relationships. We appreciate how important prison visits are for everyone involved. Our aim is to make them less daunting so that the time spent together helps families to re-connect in a positive way. We are always here to offer practical and emotional support.
To learn more about our work in prisons, click here.