As volunteers across England and Wales begin to prepare for Angel Tree, Daniella Fetuga-Joensuu, a Community Chaplain in the male estate, describes running our gift-giving programme last Christmas.
As Covid-19 took hold, many people who normally visited the prison to help the men fill out their Angel Tree applications were unable to do so. But, as a part-time Community Chaplain, I was able to support those in our care to fill out their form.
Despite not being able to go into the prison, the support of the local PF group was amazing. They fundraised, wrapped, collected, and posted countless gifts helping to make the programme possible.
The pandemic was, and still is, a dark time for the men. Their prison life has changed drastically from what they previously knew. Twenty-three hours in their cells with no opportunity to see family members takes its toll; there’s only so much TV a man can watch.
And so, you can imagine how thrilled they were at the opportunity to connect with their children at Christmas. They were
ecstatic! For just over a month, I was one of the most popular chaplains because they wanted me to collect their applications.
I had numerous thank yous from the men. They thanked God for Angel Tree and some of them even referred to me as an ‘angel’.
One man was in tears when he shared about the phone call he had with his children and the Christmas card they had sent him. He said, ‘I am so glad that you knocked on my cell door that day. Thank you.’
To the wonderful PF volunteers and supporters: your work really makes it possible for us to be light in this dark place. As we go around being God’s ‘hands and feet’ to those in prison, your incredible support reaches far beyond what you could imagine. To some, you are the only love that they experience.
Please keep up the amazing work and may God continue to send you a fresh anointing of inspiration, joy and strength.
For information on Angel Tree, please visit prisonfellowship.org.uk/our-work/angel-tree