Updated: 6th May 2020
We want to make you aware of how we at Prison Fellowship are responding to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, and will aim to keep this page as up to date as possible. If you have any questions, please call our Support Team on 020 7799 2500 (reduced office hours of 10am-3:30pm from Monday 23rd March) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In all situations, the government guidelines take priority and can be found at this webpage: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
Volunteering in Prison
The government have an official guidance page on the coronavirus and prisons: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-and-prisons. We advise you to keep checking this page for updates.
The first case of coronavirus in prison was confirmed on Wednesday 18th March at HMP Strangeways in Manchester.
We are concerned for the impact the virus may have on the men and women we serve in prison, and the people who work there. Through our actions, we seek to do what we can to limit the impact of the virus on our volunteers and those we serve in prison.
- All PF Volunteers should avoid attending prison establishments for the time being in an attempt to reduce the level of traffic through the gate and thus the spread of infection.
- Any volunteer experiencing symptoms, should follow government advice and self-isolate.
- In line with government advice, if you are over 70 or have any pre-existing health conditions, you should remain at home.
We recognise that all of these restrictions will prevent local group meetings taking place and severely restrict PF‘s work in prison. We are encouraging our Group Leaders to check in with all their group members and host meetings virtually as appropriate.
Prison Fellowship Programmes
Like a lot of organisations, coronavirus is already having an impact on the implementation of our programmes. We are exploring all possible options to keep serving men and women in prison and supporting the work of prison Chaplaincies, while keeping our staff, volunteers and beneficiaries safe.
- We were able to complete the Angel Tree Mothers’ Day programme as normal, and received much positive feedback from both young people in prison and prison Chaplains.
- All Sycamore Tree courses are currently postponed. We are looking at what we can do to prepare for when restrictions are lifted, including moving training online so that new Group Facilitators can be trained and ready.
- At this time, when all social visits have stopped, our letter writing ministry, Letter Link, is more important than ever. We are working with Chaplaincies to see how we can expand this programme, and are offering online training to current volunteers.
- Through Chaplaincy Support, PF Volunteer Chaplains, with faith accreditation continue to support the provision of pastoral care in prison chaplaincy. We are also in touch with Managing Chaplains across England and Wales, to see how we can best support them remotely while volunteers are unable to go into prison. They value our continued prayers for their work.
The PF Support Team
We have put plans in place to continue the work of the Support Team through the coming weeks.
- Most of the team are working from home. They can be contacted as usual by email.
- We hope to keep the phone lines open, but we are shortening the “office hours” to 10am-3:30pm. If you call outside these hours and the phone is not answered, please leave a voicemail or send an email to email@example.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
We are a people of prayer. In prayer we can bring our fears, our frustrations, our friends and family to God, and commit everything to God’s loving care. And we are a people of HOPE, looking for the signs of God’s loving presence and action in our world, and responding to His invitation to join him.
We are hosting a fortnightly National Prayer Call for our volunteers, and have seen well over 200 people joining each time! We are united in prayer for our prisons at this time.
- Pray for our prisons, and everyone that lives and works there – that God would encircle them with protection and healing.
- Pray for the families of men and women in prison, who may be anxious for their loved ones, and unable to visit – may God bring them peace and strength to endure a difficult time.
- Pray for PF volunteers, especially those you know in your local group – that God might protect the vulnerable and calm our anxieties.
Thank you for your commitment to support each other and those in prison who we serve. This may look very different over the coming weeks and months, but it is no less important.
If you have any worries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will help as much as we are able, and we would be honoured to know how we can be praying for you.