Prisons Week

Over the years Christians have responded to Christ’s call to visit those in prison (Matthew 25
verses 31-46). Reformers such as John Howard and Elizabeth Fry did much to alleviate the
appalling prison conditions in the 18th and 19th centuries. Christians influenced 19th century
prison legislation which provided for individual cells instead of dormitories and for the
appointment of three members of staff – governor, doctor and chaplain.

A more recent initiative is Prisons Week which raises awareness within churches and the
wider Christian community of the needs of all those affected by prisons: prisoners and their
families, victims of crime and their communities, those working in the criminal justice
system and the many people who are involved in caring for those affected by crime on the
inside and outside of our prisons.

Prisons Week motivates prayer and for volunteers to step forward and give their time and
gifts, in prisons and in their own communities. It provides an annual focus and reason for
Christians to work together to make a difference for people who are out of sight and often out
of mind.

Formerly known as Prisoners’ Week, Prisons Week began in England and Wales in 1975. It
had its beginnings as a Roman Catholic initiative started by Bishop Victor Guazzelli,
but quickly gained ecumenical support and became an ecumenical observance, receiving
the patronage of: The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Westminster, the
Archbishop of Wales and the Moderator of the Free Churches Group.

This year Prisons Week will commence on Prisons Sunday (13 th October), the second Sunday
in October, and will run through until Saturday 19 th October. You can learn more about it and
download prayer material from http://prisonsweek.org/.

To celebrate, encourage and contribute to this wider community initiative to benefit all
affected by prisons the Christians in MoJ network will hold will hold a prayer session on
Wednesday 16th October 12.30 to 1.30pm in 102PF contemplation room (dial-in will also be
available – for details email christiansinmoj@justice.gov.uk) which will be facilitated by Lisa
Lewis from The Prison Advice and Care Trust (a national charity that provides support to
prisoners, people with convictions, and their families).

You may also be interested by the Annual Prisons Week lecture, which will this year be at Southwark Cathedral, on 17th October at 6:30pm. The speakers will be Robert Buckland QC MP, Lord Chancellor & Secretary of State for Justice and Rose Hudson-Wilkin, current Chaplain to Parliament and soon to be Bishop of Dover. You can sign up to attend at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/prisons-week-2019-tickets-69875925775?aff=ebdssbdestsearch.

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