‘Writing to my pen friend in prison is the one thing Covid couldn’t stop!’
One of the joys of Prison Fellowship is making friends with some truly amazing people. Enid is 93 years old and has served with us for over 30 years. Recently, I heard of her continued passion for our ministry as well as her wise thoughts on some of the things happening in our world.
Just two days after England and Wales had recorded the hottest day on record, Enid emphasised how, if each of us does not play our part to take care of our planet now, the impact of our inaction will cause bigger issues with our climate in the future.
And then it struck me! There is a real similarity here to the situation in our prisons: If we do not take care of the people in our prisons now, they will not be effectively rehabilitated and society will have to deal with the consequences of their continued anti-social behaviours in years to come.
Enid is continuing to play her part. While she is now unable to visit prison, this has not deterred her. Rather, it has spurred her on to do more! She tells me, ‘Even if we are not able to physically be in prison, there is still work we can do. Our input is just as vital. I have always been a big advocate of work outside of prison being just as important.’
She regularly intercedes for our ministry with her prayer partner, Deborah, and continues to volunteer on our Letter Link programme which connects people in prison with a trained volunteer letter writer.
Enid started writing through the programme in 2008. She excitedly lists the names of each of her seven Letter Link writers. ‘I just love writing letters!’ she beams. ‘How lovely it is when a letter with a Prison Fellowship post mark arrives through my door—I know it’s from my Letter Link writer.’
Enid’s first letter writer used to help in the prison chapel. ‘He wrote me the most beautiful poem,’ she enthuses. ‘It had such an impact on me. I have arranged for it to be read at my funeral.’
Criminology research shows one of the most powerful ways to help people walk away from crime is to invest in them on a one-to-one basis. Similarly, our faith tells us that God cares about each one of us individually. And so, we should show that love to people in prison on the same individual basis.
And, while Enid has devoted much time to each of her letter writers, she is very aware of how they have supported her too. She shares, ‘When my letter writer assures me that, “I am praying for you,” that is a real highlight! I write back and say thank you and I feel closer to them.’
Volunteers like Enid are the backbone of our organisation and the frontline of our ministry. Their passion, endurance and heart to support people in prison blesses thousands of lives in seen and unseen ways. Maybe we will never know the full impact of their ministry.
Right now, I know there are hundreds of PF volunteers across our communities quietly making a difference. But there are many more people in prison who need our help. It is why we must continue investing to train and support our volunteers.
I believe that God not only wants us to sustain our ministry, but also to grow it so that we can make a difference to the lives of even more people in prison in the future.
Would you like to play your part in this future? Please do consider how you might respond today. The benefits of your investment in our ministry will create positive ripples in our society for years to come.
Yes, I will make a donation.
Your gift will help us continue to support men and women in prison through this crisis, and emerge stronger and ready to reach even more people in Christ’s name. Thank you!