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Henry’s Story

Have you ever missed the end of your favourite TV programme?

Not knowing how stories conclude can be very frustrating. Our curious minds mean that we like to know what happens next.

The same can be said of our work in prisons. PF Volunteers will encounter people in prison as part of a Sycamore Tree course, while providing pastoral care or transcribing their Prayer Line requests. And then, these people are transferred or released from prison. Despite knowing that we can trust their care into God’s hands, we are left thinking about how their story is going.

I want to tell you about Henry.

He was a learner on the first Sycamore Tree course that our Volunteer, Brian, facilitated. Henry also spent a lot of time in the prison chapel and became a Christian while serving his sentence and was baptised. Brian would often check in on Henry when visiting the prison. But then, one day, Henry was released. And Brian was left wondering and praying about his life on the outside.

A few years later, Brian was volunteering in a category A prison for the very first time. On his arrival, the Managing Chaplain smiled and said, ‘There’s someone in the chapel who would like to meet you.’ Brian wondered who this might be.

He walked in and there was Henry. He ran over and excitedly greeted Brian! But now Brian’s mind was racing. What on earth has happened for Henry to be in a category A prison? If he had been recalled here, he must have done something seriously wrong. He said, ‘Henry, what’s happened? Why are you back in prison?’

Henry laughed. ‘I’m not here as a prisoner. I am now a Group Facilitator, helping to run Sycamore Tree. The course had such a big impact on me that I wanted to help others to be transformed, too! I can never thank the Sycamore Tree team enough. They helped turn my life around.’

Brian had feared the worst. But Henry explained how he was now working and had been reunited with his family.

 ‘Often you work with people on Sycamore Tree and you never hear from them again,’ Brian affirms. ‘It is so wonderful when you can unexpectedly catch up. Part of Henry’s journey was finding faith. Another part was Sycamore Tree and all that it teaches, together with forgiveness for which Henry said he would be forever grateful.’

Henry’s journey encourages us that, while we may not learn the end of everyone’s story, we worship an incredible God. As Brian puts it, ‘I had no idea how Sycamore Tree might shape Henry’s life. But his story teaches us to be faithful in what we do—because we have no idea where these people are going to finish up. What a thrill that Henry went full circle and was back with PF volunteering in prison!’

And so, you and I now know what happened to Henry. But there are many other people for whom we do not know the end of their story. But what we can be sure of—even when we don’t witness it—is that Sycamore Tree is transforming the lives of learners on every course taking place across England and Wales.

This year, the demand for Sycamore Tree is such that we are being asked to run more courses than ever before.

Please could you prayerfully consider making a gift today to help ensure that when a prison requests a Sycamore Tree course, we are always able to say, ‘Yes.’

We may never hear the end of our graduates’ stories after they leave prison. But we know that Sycamore Tree will give them a better chance to turn their lives around.

Make a one-off donation

Your gift will help us support people in prison, through the faithful presence of our Volunteers, and through our programmes: Sycamore TreeAngel Tree, Letter Link and Prayer Line.

Thank you!

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Gift Aid

Gift Aid It!Add 25% more to your donation at no cost to you. A Gift Aid declaration allows Prison Fellowship to claim tax back on eligible donations. It means that for every £1 you donate to Prison Fellowship we can claim back 25p, at no extra cost to you.

By ticking the "Yes" box, I agree I would like Prison Fellowship to reclaim the tax on all qualifying donations I have made, as well as any future donations, until I notify them otherwise. I understand that if I pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations in that tax year I may be asked to pay any difference. I understand that Prison Fellowship will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 that I give.

What is Gift Aid?

Gift Aid does not cost you a penny more, but can add an additional 25p to every £1 you donate. When Prison Fellowship receives a donation from a UK taxpayer, we're entitled to claim an amount of tax (calculated at the basic rate of income tax in that year) paid on that donation. Once you have given your permission for us to do this on your behalf, there is no need for you to do anything else.

All that is required is that you must be a taxpayer and that would have paid or will pay sufficient Income and/or Capital Gains Tax to cover all the Gift Aid claimed on all your donations in that tax year. Please note that it is your responsibility to pay any difference.

The amount of tax we claim will be 25% of the total value of your donations in that tax year. Furthermore, if you are a higher taxpayer, you are also entitled to claim the difference between the basic rate which we will claim and the amount of tax you have actually paid. For further details on how you can do this, please contact your tax office. If your tax situation changes and your gifts will no longer be eligible for the Gift Aid scheme please contact us and we will amend your record accordingly.

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“I can honestly say that I never had as much satisfaction when I worked as I do now as a volunteer.” — Arthur, Chaplaincy Support volunteer

Volunteer with PF

Volunteers are the life-blood of our organisation, and what they do in the lives of those in prison and as they pray, is incredibly valuable. If you are looking to use your time to support some of the most marginalised people in our society to transform their lives, then volunteering could be for you.

Find out more