People in Prison

Baby Bags for Families

Mothers' Union members in the diocese of West Yorkshire & The Dales (Ripon & Leeds) volunteer in some of the local prisons, eg three days a week at the crèche at Wealstun Prison, to provide support in the visits area and to be a friendly face to visitors.

In addition members supply 'Baby Bags' containing items for a new baby such as toiletries and knitted items in neutral colours, with a special knitted teddy or pram blanket. These are given to new mums at the end of the Pregnancy Project sessions at the Jigsaw Visitor Centre.

Through the Gate

Mothers' Union members in London were already involved in Bronzefield prison, when they were asked by the Chaplain to help girls when released from prison.

The 'Through the Gate' scheme offers girls who are being released help to get to the nearest train station.

With the full knowledge of the Chaplain, who often also goes along, Mothers' Union members go in twos and meet the girls who are being released, and accompany them to the nearest train station where they help the girls with buying the tickets and getting on the train.

Prisoners' Prayers

Prisoners' Prayers is an initiative which started in November 2013 at HMP Lewis. Through the prison chaplain a group of Mothers' Union members have invited prisoners to share their prayer requests.

The prayer requests are left in a box in the chapel on Sundays. There have been as many as 15 requests at times but no less than 8 a week. The prison chaplaincy volunteer then emails prisoners' prayer requests once a week to a team of Mothers' Union members which is made up of representatives from five districts plus the prayer chain coordinator and indoor members' representative.

Working with others in prisons

Mothers’ Union members are working with other volunteers, in partnership with staff, to ensure children and families visiting prisoners have a positive experience.

The Prison Community Volunteer Group emerged after Mothers’ Union responded to Churches Together, who put out a request to local faith communities, in order to form a band of volunteers to support the families and friends of prisoners.

Guide and Scout groups at prisons

Two Mothers’ Union members in Scotland initiated and lead a Guide and Scout group for children and young people visiting in prison, with both groups taking place at the prison visitor centre.

These two members have gathered together a band of 25 volunteers to make this possible.

They have a Rainbow group running each week too (for younger age groups), which is proving popular. Each week they pick a different theme, food, health, etc, and all the play is within these themes.

Book work

Members helping at a prison have developed ‘Book Work’. The prisoners with their children have the opportunity to make a personalised book for their children. They are supported by the librarian as they use the library computers to design, print, laminate and bind the books. The books are given by the prisoners to their children during “fathers inside” family visits or posted as necessary.

The big book share

The BIG BOOK SHARE is a scheme for prisoners and their children to share the same book. The book is read together or separately and then discussed. Mothers’ Union advertise for books through the members, across the Christian churches, on radio, and in newspapers. Mothers’ Union then sort the books into pairs, number them and make a list of books available. (180 at present).