Love on Mothers' Day

Each one of us, over the years will have many memories, both happy and sad, of marking Mother’s Day in some way. It can be a difficult time for many, especially those in prison, so the Prison Fellowship (PF) has a project linked for Mothers’ Day.

Angel Tree Mothers’ Day supports young adult prisoners in their family relationships by enabling them to have a gift sent on their behalf, containing their own message, to their mother or other significant adult, on Mothers’ Day.

PF’s mission is to show Christ’s love to prisoners by coming alongside them and supporting them. They seek through prayer and practical care to help, support and develop a Christian ministry to prisoners and their families.

How can you get involved? You can find out more about the Angel Tree project and the wider work of PF HERE… you can get involved in your church by praying for their work, volunteering, making donation or partnering your church with Angel Tree Mothers’ Day - find out more HERE.

You can sign up for their free prayer diary HERE.

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison.”— Hebrews 13:3

Photo courtesy of Andrea Tummons, Unsplash

Learning sets us free...

Thirty years ago, I began my first degree in English and Education at Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University). I had been attending evening classes the previous year to brush up my Maths skills and gain an O level. I was both nervous and excited about this new venture - but once I began, I was amazed at how my mind and heart opened out and my confidence grew, with all the new things I was learning. It felt like a kind of freedom!

It is thirty years since the Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) was established. Since it started the Trust has been providing access to broader learning opportunities for prisoners to enhance their chances of building a better life after release.

After I graduated, I spent time as an Education Manager across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire which included managing education contracts for those serving prison sentences (both short and long terms, in youth and adult jails). I had the privilege and honour to see, first hand, the way that men and women actively engaged in all kinds of education and how they like me, had found a new sense of esteem and freedom through this learning. Many years later, I worked alongside a Free Church Prison Chaplain in Gloucestershire and spent time with prisoners who through their church life, worship and educational programmes were building a future full of hope.

In your church you can get involved in volunteering or fundraising for the work of PET. You can find out more information HERE.

PET’s motto is: Every prisoner a learner, every prison a place to learn

Pray with us for the work of PET, as they celebrate thirty years of service to prisoners and for the work of our Free Church Prison Chaplains across the nation.

Lord, you offer freedom to all people. We pray for those in prison. Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist. Support with your love prisoners and their families and friends, prison staff and all who care. Heal those who have been wounded by the actions of others, especially the victims of crime. Help us to forgive one another, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with Christ in his strength and in his Spirit, now and every day. Amen.

Prayer from

Photo courtesy of Steve Halama @ Unsplash

Sara Iles, FCG Education Asst

"Top 100 Charity!"

The Prison Advice and Care Trust (Pact) is a national charity that provides support to prisoners, people with convictions, and their families. A few years ago, I had the benefit of attending a Pact course entitled The Hidden Sentence; Pact developed the course and named it based on a phrase that they have so often heard from prisoners’ families as a description of how their lives can feel - The Hidden Sentence. It was challenging and inspiring to be part of this training and I am so pleased to see that Pact are going from strength to strength in their work! They have just been ranked as one of the best charities to work for. Congratulations from all at FCG! Pact has a long history of serving prisoners, families and communities and was established by Christians over 120 years ago!

Pact says: “We are proud to announce that Pact has been ranked as one of the top 100 best not-for-profit organisations to work for in the UK for the second time! We are absolutely delighted to see that we have risen 24 places to 55th in The Sunday Times list. We would like to say a huge thank you to all staff who took part in the Best Companies B-Heard survey and thank them for their fantastic feedback. We will be looking at all of the results carefully so that we can continue developing Pact as a great place to work. Pact CEO, Andy Keen-Downs said to our staff: You have told us that you work for Pact for the very best of reasons. You’ve said that your work really matters to you – that it’s not just a job - it’s part of your life, and you are here because you share our values. We do work that most people in Society would never dream of attempting. We have a uniquely values-driven, passionate, brave and determined workforce. That’s why we keep growing and improving. That’s why we are a Top 100 charity.”

Pact support people to make a fresh start, and minimise the harm that can be caused by imprisonment to people who have committed offences, to families and to communities.

What Pact do:

  • Build stronger families and safer communities.

  • Reduce risk of harm to prisoners and their children.

  • Remove barriers and increase awareness in public services.

  • Influence commissioning, policy and legislation.

Please pray with us the work of Pact, their staff, volunteers and services to be upheld and supported!

You can read more about the wider work which FCG do to support ministry in prisons HERE

Revd Sara Iles, FCG

Photo by Ethan Hoover, from Unsplash

Happy 40th birthday to Prison Fellowship!

It’s said that life begins at 40. Yet, thanks to God’s faithfulness, PF has already achieved so much in the transformation of prisoners’ lives since they were founded by Sylvia Mary Alison in 1979.

Join them and their special guests on the afternoon of Saturday 30th March at Westminster Chapel, London to celebrate the past 40 years, and look forward with anticipation to the future of our ministry to prisoners in England and Wales.

Register your attendance through our Eventbrite page. This is a free un-ticketed event, but registering will help them to plan how much cake to buy!

Find out more about the event and the contributors who will be part of it here.

Revd Bob Wilson SECRETARY FOR PRISON CHAPLAINCY AND FREE CHURCHES FAITH ADVISER will be there along with many other friends of PF and fellow workers.

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison.”— Hebrews 13:3

Photo by Jason Leung @ Unsplash

Freedom on the inside to flourish on the outside

Freedom to learn and study while in prison can have a significant impact to the lives of prisoners while serving their sentence and to productive lives after release…

Good news?! There was a rare positive piece of prison news last week, as government research into prison education showed that prisoners who spend their time studying through distance learning are significantly more successful in securing work after release. The cost of funding prison education courses is tiny when compared with the cost of re-offending.

During my pastoral ministry training, with a Free Church denomination (CF) I had the privilege of serving alongside a prison chaplain in Gloucestershire. The work I did there and the amazing people I met, had a profound influence on my life, Christian witness and attitudes to life, learning and love. As the Education Assistant with the FCG, I have seen first hand the power of learning in later life, to transform all sorts of people. As church-folk, we have a unique and awesome responsibility to find ways of contributing to this.

What could you do? Please feel free to get in touch with me or Revd Bob Wilson at FCG to find out more about how you can get involved. 

The Free Churches Group support prisons and Free Church chaplaincies across the nation. You can read more about this work HERE. In a compelling article, Rod Clarke, the chief executive of the Prisoners’ Education Trust, champions the power of learning inside, to help men and women who are serving time to grow and develop and flourish on release. You can read the full article as featured in the Times Educational Supplement HERE.

Good news indeed! 

Revd Sara Iles, Education Assistant, Free Churches Group 

(Photo courtesy of Sunyu on Unsplash)