Help Pact to help prisoners and their families

Christmas family visits for the women inside HMP Send (photo by Andy Aitchison)

Prisoners’ Sunday 8 October 2023 ‘This day…with me…paradise’ Luke 23:43

A message from Cardinal Vincent Nichols

‘As President of Pact, I invite you to join with me in supporting Prisoners’ Sunday on 8 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 posts out a Prisoners’ Sunday pack to every parish in England & Wales – arriving around 18 September. It contains a poster, bidding prayers, information about our work and second collection details.

There are no women’s prisons in the Diocese of Brentwood so women from the area will be incarcerated some distance away from their children and families. Pact works in almost all the women’s prisons in England. We make sure our approach responds to the particular needs of women in prison.

Sally* is 23 years old and has mental health problems including, like too many women in prison, a history of self-harm. Her young daughter was born on the mother and baby unit of the prison and until she was two years old, Sally looked after her daughter there. Then the little girl was placed in the care of an aunt.

After five years inside, Sally was due to be released. She was working on healthier ways of coping with life, preparing for leaving custody, and hopefully being with her daughter. Prisoners often tell us that leaving prison can be an apprehensive, and perhaps even frightening, time.

Sally will have little money on release and very few possessions. Thanks to the generosity of Pact supporters, we were able to provide her with a small grant so she can buy food, clothes and household items. Sally told Pact staff, “I really appreciate having this help on my release. Feeling good about myself and where I am living is going to help me so much to feel like I can do this, I can keep pushing forward and I can create a nice life for me and my daughter. I never thought I’d be so grateful for a bunch of professionals but I really couldn’t have got through this without you.”

For children, the experience of having mum or dad in prison is more common than divorce. There will be families like Sally and her daughter in every community but they may struggle in silence because of the stigma associated with imprisonment.

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 humbly request that parishes consider taking up a second collection to support the work of Pact in the year ahead. Your support means we can do more for prisoners and their families. You can choose a nearby Sunday for the second collection if that helps.

Get in touch if you would like someone to speak briefly about Pact’s work at Mass on Prisoners’ Sunday where you are: [email protected]

Pact Prisoners’ Sunday information and resources: Marking Prisoners’ Sunday | Prison Advice and Care Trust

Our Faith in Action team supports Catholic people and parishes to encounter the voices of people in our communities with lived experience of the criminal justice system, to reflect on Catholic Social Teaching, and to put faith into action. We offer our JustPeople workshops, Diocesan events, and a network of Pact Parish Reps  Events | Prison Advice and Care Trust

*names changed to protect identities

Donate – Prisoners’ Sunday Appeal | Prison Advice and Care Trust