Updated: 19th March 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 email@example.com.
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 many 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.
Some elements of our programming are already being adjusted, for example, all Sycamore Tree courses have been postponed. But other programmes such as Letter Link are more important than ever, and we are adapting our procedures to ensure volunteers can continue to provide encouragement and support to their penpals in prison.
The PF Support Team
We have been putting 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
- 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.