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Stories of hope

As my time leading Prison Fellowship (PF) draws to a close, I have been thinking joyfully about the last nine years and looking forward with excitement to the next chapter of our ministry.

Overwhelmingly, my thoughts have been of special, servant-hearted, dedicated people doing their very best for those in our prisons. And of people in prison grateful to have been given a helping hand to get their lives back on track.

It is these Volunteers who make PF what it is today. And, looking forward, they will continue to be the backbone of our organisation and the frontline of our ministry. Their commitment reminds me of these wonderful words from 1 Corinthians: ‘Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.’

Sycamore Tree

In my first year as CEO, I met an indomitable and wonderful Managing Chaplain for the final week of a Sycamore Tree course at his prison in the north west of England. Everything from his beaming smile to his strong coffee told me of the Christ-filled life he gives to the men in his care. Members of the community were present for this final week – including the families of our learners. The way the PF team made them welcome and strengthened their family ties showed me that Sycamore Tree is very special.

Angel Tree

One Christmas, I spoke with an Angel Tree group who had been asked by a parent in prison to buy a pink teddy with ‘Daddy loves me’ written on the front for their child. They had not been able to find such a specific gift. And so, they searched for a pink bear, and embroidered the words on the teddy themselves! I still have a picture of that bear today to remind me of the extent of God’s love for every person and the extraordinary effort that PF’s Volunteers make for people in prison.

Letter Link

I also had the privilege of visiting the children’s prison estate to offer Letter Link to under-18s. The programme was very popular, and the children loved receiving letters and cards. But many of them did not write back to their specially-trained PF Volunteer. However, I saw this unreciprocated writing as a beautiful illustration of God’s unconditional love to us all and the faithfulness of PF Volunteers. It does not matter if we never write back—God never stops writing to us!

Prayer Line 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, PF Volunteers were barred from visiting prison. What should a prison ministry that is not allowed into prison do next? I was reminded that, when Sylvia Mary Alison founded PF 45 years ago, she faced the same exclusion from prison. She organised PF people to do what we do best – to pray. And so, during Covid, PF Volunteers faithfully came together at our first online national Volunteer prayer gathering. And these events have been running ever since – adding to our prayer ministry.

When we prayed, we heard God answer! In 2020, we were able to launch our Prayer Line service for those in prison, which continues to run today. When people call our free phone number and leave their prayer requests, hundreds of Volunteers across England and Wales will pray for them that very same day.

They are also a beautiful reminder that we do none of these things in our own strength. We worship a wonderful God who has led PF through many challenges. And He has built a strong team of Volunteers, people who pray and Supporters. Having followed God’s call into prison ministry over 40 years ago, I am so grateful for these unique, first-hand experiences of PF’s mission.

What is so encouraging to me is that every PF Volunteer and Supporter will have similar tales to tell. The combined impact of all our work makes PF the force it is today and will continue to be tomorrow: thousands of people showing Christ’s love to those in prison!

As I move on, I do so knowing that God has a plan to move Prison Fellowship on, too. I also know that I will continue to be part of the PF family – but serving in a different way. I am very grateful to you for all that you do for PF. Thank you! Your commitment to this ministry is helping PF continue changing the lives of people in prison and their families.

And so, please can I ask you to prayerfully consider supporting our ministry with a gift today?

Your generosity will be encouraging more of these stories to take place and enabling our Volunteers to reach even more people in prison with the transformative power of Christ’s love.

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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“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.

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