The Prisons Advice and Care Trust welcomed clergy, staff and volunteers to the St Thomas Centre on Saturday 18th November for a ‘Just People’ roadshow.
Pact is the national Catholic charity supporting prisoners and their families. The charity works in 6 prisons in the diocese of Northampton. Bishop David welcomed Pact staff Theresa Alessandro and Marie Norbury to the St Thomas’ Centre for a Roadshow event recently, supported by the Caritas team.
Theresa and Marie shared short films where people with lived experience of the criminal justice system talked about what life has been like for them. ‘My daughter didn’t know what to tell her friends when I wasn’t at her birthday party – I was in prison.’ ‘I had to take my children into school through a different door because people were talking about me in the playground.’ ‘I could have a thousand pounds in my pocket, I’d steal a ten-pound shirt. I thought I was just a bad apple.’
Prison chaplains spoke about their work: breaking bad news; sharing the gospel; listening to prisoners who are struggling to cope and those who have made mistakes over and over again.
Those who attended heard about the work Pact does to support women and men in prison to maintain contact with their families, where appropriate. It was explained that nurturing family relationships means that someone is much less likely to return to crime on release from prison and so makes communities safer.
Theresa and Marie explained a range of ways in which people can participate in this work and respond to Jesus’ words, ‘I was in prison and you visited me.’
The morning ended with a time of prayer. Each person lit a candle before an image of Mary Untier of Knots. This image was blessed by Pope Francis earlier in the year on behalf of everyone in prison sin England & Wales and their families.
Bishop David opened the day by saying
“We have a message for the world, that needs to be heard loud and clear, ‘as disciples of Christ we believe in redemption. We have hope, bought to us through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’. “
Andy Keen-Downs, PACT CEO said
“PACTS work flows from our vision, mission, and our values. Our impact is a result of a huge collective effort, and the support and goodwill of hundred’s of people”.
Find out more about how you can support people in prison and their families, and the work of Pact which promotes the common good. Visit the Pact website and take a look at the section called Pact for Parishes and Groups: prisonadvice.org.uk or talk to the Caritas team. Contact Theresa and Marie here parish.action@prisonadvice.