As volunteers across England and Wales begin to prepare for Angel Tree, Rev’d Preb Sarah Morris, a Managing Chaplain in the female estate, describes running our gift-giving programme last Christmas.
We have run Angel Tree for the last six years. Every year, we see the number of applications increase, meaning even more children are reached through this special programme.
It makes such a difference to the lives of the women we support. They are always incredibly moved as they write the gift tags for the presents, and are able to make suggestions as to what their children might enjoy as a gift. They are bowled over by the sheer generosity of those who buy the presents. Many will share about the squeals of delight from their children after opening their gifts from mummy while mummy is on the telephone. The impact of Angel Tree is almost beyond description.
Covid-19 presented us with additional challenges in 2020. However, the process of application remained unchanged, the opportunities were still as broad, and we ended up having our biggest year yet. The small group of PF volunteers who did all the present buying, wrapping and sending are nothing short of angels! We’ve already been in touch, and are looking forward to running the programme again this year— connecting more women with their children.
Last year was also special in another way. The women on our open unit, many of whom are previous beneficiaries of Angel Tree, wanted to give something back. Throughout the autumn period, they tithed a portion of their income to contribute towards Angel Tree. The total—which was not insubstantial— was then matched by the prison, helping more people to participate in the programme.
Without Prison Fellowship’s army of volunteers and supporters, none of this would be possible. This is such a unique way that you can help prison chaplains like me reach out to those in our care.
You are bringing joy to many faces, young and old. I’m sure I speak on behalf of many of us when I extend my heartfelt thanks to you all.
For information on Angel Tree, please visit prisonfellowship.org.uk/our-work/angel-tree