This year, Angel Tree Mother’s Day delivered 804 gifts on behalf of young people in prison to their mother, or other maternal figure – our most gifts ever!
Gill Rowlands, an Angel Tree Coordinator, and Tim Spargo-Mabbs, PF’s new Programmes Coordinator, tell us about their experiences with the programme.
I have been involved with Angel Tree at Christmas for several years now. So, when I was approached to get involved in Angel Tree Mother’s Day, it was a real pleasure to say yes.
I have a God-placed passion in my heart for seeing families restored, built up and healed. I believe this extension of Angel Tree can help to facilitate that for many young offenders who are separated from their mum or other significant figure.
This year, our PF group delivered Angel Tree Mother’s Day across two local prisons. From those two prisons, we received 42 applications from young men wanting to connect with their mum.
The highlight for me is always reading the messages these young men have written. There are messages telling mums not to worry, that everything is going okay; messages saying they are praying for their mums and messages expressing how grateful they are for the unconditional love they have received. They are messages asking for forgiveness for the trouble they have caused and they are messages of hope, that this will spark a connection and their mum will write back.
It is such an honour to be part of a programme that makes it possible for these messages to reach their loved ones. None of the PF volunteers know the reasons these young people have ended up in prison or the circumstances they have been through. But we were all created in God’s image, and there but for the grace of God go each of us.
The bond between a parent and child is one which should never be broken. If receiving a gift and a message from their child on Mother’s Day helps restore, renew or rebuild even one relationship, then it is all worthwhile.
We pray over each and every gift we send; that God’s love, peace and comfort would go with it. His Word says we should be ‘devoted to one another in love’ and we pray that the young person and their families would see the love of God through the work of Angel Tree Mother’s Day.
I will never forget my introduction to Angel Tree. I was at the 2019 Prison Fellowship 40th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service. A lady named Theresa spoke about her time in prison and experience of Angel Tree. She could not understand why someone would want to buy Christmas presents for her children. She kept asking the chaplain in an effort to find out who these people were and why they were bothering with ‘someone like her.’
To cut a long story short, this love so ‘messed with her head’ that she left prison, got clean and is now a supporter and strong advocate of Angel Tree. I wept. That is the story I so want for a member of my own wider family, too.
I have recently joined the PF Support Team as Programmes Co-ordinator for Angel Tree (and Letter Link) with a due sense of awe at the transforming power of the love of God, shown through PF volunteers and supporters. I know what a tremendous opportunity for good this role gives me, and what a high calling it is to which I have been called.
As I go about learning the mechanisms of Angel Tree, I am delighted that it has reached out to embrace Mother’s Day as well. Who knows where it will lead next? In a very real sense, it is my job to find out and to drive it forward where the Spirit leads.
I am delighted at becoming a part of PF’s Support Team, hungry to get Angel Tree to more and more families and deeply aware that it is a team game. We will get there together by the grace of God. Is God calling you to get involved?
Find out more about Angel Tree Mother’s Day by visiting prisonfellowship.org.uk/our-work/mothersday