Sunday 20th November marks Prisoners’ Sunday when churches and Christians across the UK will join together in remembering prisoners, their families, ex-offenders and organisations that work with these people to help them rebuild their lives.
With one of the largest prison populations in Western Europe at nearly 94,000, and in the aftermath of this summer’s riots which saw nearly 3,000 people arrested in London alone, the issue of criminal justice is firmly back on the political agenda. Ministers and police officers have talked about ‘Broken Britain’, ‘the feral underclass’, and decade-long social problems exploding in our face but on 20th November, Christians are being called to action to pray for those serving sentences behind bars across the country, and for their families who often bear the brunt of having a family member in prison. As the UK Government tries to tackle the huge reoffending problem where 50% of those released from prison each year end up back in a prison cell within 12 months, Christians are uniting across denominations to pray and act to bring change from the inside out. There are 10,000 young people, 8,000 elderly prisoners, and 2,000 children under the age of 18 in prison. Out of all of those serving time this year, 50% of female offenders will receive no visits from family whilst on remand, 30% of young men will receive no visits, 30% of elderly prisoners are held over 100 miles from home and 38% of prisoners will have nowhere to live when released.
In response to these figures, Christians from across the UK are being urged to pray for prisoners, those who work with them to support them during their sentence, and those who provide the essential practical support that ex-offenders need as they settle back into life on the outside.
In response to this need, the Daylight Christian Prison Trust is working with prisoners during their sentence and is providing practical support to ex-offenders upon release, including accommodation, ‘at the gate’ parcels of food and clothing if needed, transport to accommodation and probation appointments, support in completing benefits forms, and help to access local service providers for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Daylight’s CEO, Rev Dr John Scott, says, ‘This Prisoners’ Sunday we are asking our supporters to pray for those behind bars in our country and particularly for those nearing release. The many organisations which work with prisoners and ex-offenders, like Daylight, are vital in helping to meet individual’s needs so that they are given the chance to rebuild their lives and avoid being stuck in a cycle of criminal behaviour. As Christians we want to see people’s lives completely transformed from the inside out as they realise who God is and see His work in their lives’.
Gillian Pegler, one of Daylight’s prison team in Wales says of the importance of Christians praying this Prisoners’ Sunday, ‘Nothing happens if we don’t pray! If we try and do this work in our own strength, without God, then maybe we’ll do some good stuff, but we won’t be doing God’s stuff – we’ll be working on one cylinder when there is all the power of heaven at our fingertips if only we would pray!! God is really excited about the work He’s doing with prisoners. He would really like us to be involved with it. And for you, maybe that means joining the army of pray-ers this Prisoners’ Sunday’.
Notes to editor:
- Daylight is a Christian organisation, set up in June 2004, to support offenders during their sentence in prisons across the UK and to offer practical support to ex-offenders after their release as they reintegrate into a local community to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.
- For more information on Daylight’s national, regional and local work, visit our website www.daylightcpt.org
- To find out more about Prisoners’ Sunday visit: http://www.prisonadvice.org.uk/prisonerssunday
- All statistics Prison Reform Trust: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/
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