A message from Cardinal Vincent Nicholls,

‘As President of Pact, I invite you to join with me in supporting Prisoners’ Sunday on 8th October 2023. Pact is the national Catholic charity providing support to prisoners and their families. It is good to know that Pact is there for people of all faiths and none, supporting prisoners and their families on our behalf and with our help. I encourage you to play your part in this work of the Gospel for the common good of all.

Pact works in five prisons in the diocese, as well as in the community. Anthony* is a young man Pact has been supporting in a local prison. Anthony initially found the prison environment overwhelming and was agitated and withdrawn. Prison staff asked Pact’s Jasmine* to get involved. Jasmine visited Anthony several times and he finally began to open up and talk about the things he was struggling with. Anthony said he was missing his partner and their baby. He revealed that he had been depressed for some years but stopped taking medication when he came to prison. He had self-harmed inside, as a way of coping. Jasmine encouraged Anthony to talk to the healthcare team inside about his mental health. She helped him find simple, healthy activities –  like painting. Anthony found that quietly painting in his cell helped lift his mood a little.

Jasmine spoke to Anthony’s partner on the phone. The young woman didn’t have the necessary documents to arrange a visit. Pact staff have an excellent understanding of the regulations around prison visits so Jasmine helped her organise alternative paperwork. On their baby’s first birthday, Anthony’s partner visited him in prison, bringing their baby to see Daddy. The first of lots of visits.

Pact’s CEO, Andy Keen-Downs explains, ‘Our work in prisons and communities across England & Wales ensures that prisoners, children and families are supported; and their dignity is respected and upheld.  Where appropriate we help families to make a fresh start together and live lives which bear good fruit. By supporting prisoners to be restored to the community, our work makes communities safer – research shows that prisoners who have good family relationships are 39% less likely to return to crime.

‘We are delighted that this year Bishop David Oakley will celebrate Mass in the Cathedral on Prisoners’ Sunday at 11am. How beautiful and how fitting that prisoners and their families will be brought before the Lord in the Cathedral as well as in parishes in the diocese.’