This week is Prisons Week, a week of prayer for all those impacted by prison, whether that's as victims of crime, prisoners, their families, prison officers, chaplins, ex offenders or those working in the justice system.
If you were at the prayer meeting on Wednesday night you'll have heard Mel Woods tell an inspiring story of someone we've been helping as a community on their journey from prison back into society, who on the way has found a relationship with Jesus. How cool is that!
Kerith has two primary prison ministries, Sunday visits to various prisons in our area (headed up by Lee and Sonia Brett) and Restart, a mentoring for prisoners on their release. I realise that Restart may be new to many of us, so asked Mel to give some more infomation on it which I've included at the end of this blog.
As part of Restart we try to meet mentees out of prison with a ‘release pack’ – a bag of essentials eg shower gel, deodorant, towels, diary, Bible etc.
If you'd be interested in donating items for the release packs, getting involved in mentoring or joining the team doing prison visits please contact the team via email. They'd love to hear from you.
And please pray. If you're not sure what to pray for please pray for our teams, and take a look at the Prisons Week website for inspiration.
Hope you have a great weekend,
RESTART is our mentoring programme for those being released from prison, designed to help ex-offenders reintegrate back into their local community and move forward with their lives with the support of a mentor.
Approximately 68% of adult offenders re-offend within two years of release. Evidence suggests that appropriate support, and focusing on achieving goals in key areas, can reduce this re-offending rate significantly. We believe that as a Church community we are able to, and have a responsibility, to do something. As Jesus quoted (from Isaiah 61) "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…"
Kerith has linked with two charities in order to deliver this – New Leaf who work with short-term offenders in the Thames Valley area to reduce re-offending rates, and Caring for Ex-Offenders who aim to link those being released from prison with a local church for support. We also accept referrals from agencies in Bracknell, for example Bracknell Probation Service or Foodbank.
Our aim is to meet mentees at the gate on day of release in order to provide crucial support on that first day helping them settle back and attend necessary appointments. The mentor will then meet with them on a weekly basis for a minimum of 3 months in order to provide support and work through issues linked with their offending behaviour. Mentors can signpost their mentee to key local agencies and will also help them plan and work towards their goals, and can help them get specific advice in areas such as benefits, accommodation, healthy relationships, employment, alcohol and drugs, and debt as well as supporting them in their faith journey if they are interested.