Chaplaincy at H.M.P. Bedford
Bedford Prison houses up to 500 category B male prisoners and young offenders.
The Chaplains are there to care for the spiritual welfare of prisoners and staff, whether they are people of faith or not, and whatever that faith might be. I may find myself giving a Quran to a Muslim prisoner and signing him up for Friday prayers. One of the Imams may find himself handing out a Bible and adding the prisoner's name to the list for the Bible Study. Think of a religion and we probably have someone who claims it and whom we need to enable to practise it. We do become suspicious of those who ask to change their religion just before a major festival that involves special food!
Our role often involves breaking news. Where this is telling someone that someone they love has died it's tough for them and us. We try to support them not just that day but in the days and weeks to come. Often prisoners are not able to attend funerals. I run a bereavement course called 'Living with Loss' for the men. It is a privilege to help create a safe place where they can speak about the losses they have experienced often for the first time, to hear their stories and to begin to enable them to express their feelings in a healthy way.
Sometimes we get to share good news such as to tell someone he is the father of a healthy boy and to offer him congratulations.
Our statutory duties include meeting each new prisoner to get to know them, find out how they are and tell them about the chaplaincy, visiting each prisoner who is in the Segregation Unit, each prisoner in the Healthcare (hospital wing), each prisoner on the wing for vulnerable prisoners and caring for any prisoners who are self-harming or at risk of suicide. These duties are carried out daily by one of the team.
Much of the work we do involves listening to people, hearing their troubles and frustrations, their hopes and their fears, sharing their terrible jokes, laughing, crying and often praying with them and for them and their families.
So please pray for me on Thursday mornings as I work at the prison and at other times too for the staff, the prisoners and their families and friends. We need your prayers.