Faith, Hope and Love in Prison
This past few weeks has seen media attention swing back to life in our prisons [Panorama Undercover].
Faith groups have always been involved in the care of prisoners and ex-offenders, so we asked Jane Gould for a blog. Jane is the Founder of Clean Sheet, a Christian charity that helps prisoners move from prison to employment.
What can a faith-based charity do in our prisons? How does anyone help broken people begin the painful process of piecing together their shattered lives?
Lives that began for 40% of them with exclusion from school.
Lives that for 60% of them were spent in care.
Lives that for up to 75% of them were blighted by alcohol, drugs and parental addiction.
Lives where poverty and violence were a daily experience.
Lives with your Dad in prison.
And finally, life in prison today – with a criminal record and little real chance of change.
Faith-based organisations like Clean Sheet work with prisoners simply because we want to. We’re not paid to turn up. We’re not target-driven. Each person is an individual to us and they know the difference.
We believe there is hope for each prisoner attending our Ways to Work employability sessions.
Our volunteers are often amazed as prisoners begin to recognise their value and fine human qualities. In building confidence, realistic aspiration becomes possible and we plant those seeds of real hope; the vital ingredient for true transformation.
So how are faith-based organisations coping with the current crisis in our prisons? To be honest, the last two years have been difficult and often confusing; but we’re not here to despair; we just work wherever we can.
And it doesn’t end in prison.
Clean Sheet helps ex-offenders to join their local Job Club. And after completing our membership module, they can access the Clean Sheet Employers Directory. Our 74 Employers – including Boots, East Coast Trains, Skanska and Marks & Spencer – actively consider any Clean Sheet member who applies for an existing vacancy. Real, solid opportunities.
Why are we a faith-based organisation?
Although our delivery is secular and we wholeheartedly welcome everyone of all faiths and none, our motivation comes from one source. God. His love made manifest in Jesus, and by His Grace, love for our fellow men. For all of us at Clean Sheet, it’s this love that repairs broken men and heals broken lives.
Jane Gould; Founder, Clean Sheet
FaithAction have recently been researching the work of faith-based organisations with prisoners and ex-offenders. A report will be released in the new financial year.