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Chaplaincy Service

The Prison Chaplaincy Service is run by fully qualified full and part time Church Ministers of various denominations.  Since Probation Officers were reduced in numbers and their duties transferred to Prison Officers the only official listener is the Chaplain.  

OK, so you are not religious but the Chaplain will not care about that, he or she is interested in you as a person and will welcome you into the Chapel.  The Chaplain is also prepared to visit you in your cell, has a listening ear and can sort out many problems.  The Chaplain also has a key to move around the prison and access to a phone.  A good ear if you have problems on the outside that you cannot solve on the inside for yourself.

Unfortunately many who go to Church on Sunday are there to trade their Phone Cards for whatever they need - drugs, tobacco etc.  They tend to disrupt the genuine worshipers but even so the Chaplain makes them welcome.

More interesting are the Prayer evenings, Fellowships and the individual denomination services.

In one prison we had no Chapel Reception to learn what was on offer, in another the Prison Officers didn't even know the times of the services.

I found attending the services a great comfort during some very difficult times.  Unfortunately the Roman Catholic and Anglican services tended to be "strictly by the book" whereas the others were less rigid and able to be adapted to the needs of the prisoners.  Occasionally we got a rather unaware chaplain who just before Christmas insisted on talking about the present buying, the drinking and the family parties which were the hall mark of Christmas.  This served well to remind us of what we were missing.

One old man got very upset - he had not seen Christmas for 20 years.

Most Chaplains were sensitive to the needs of inmates and worked well with them.

The Prison Chaplain will ensure that if you are from one of the less populated faiths that the appropriate local minister will attend.

There should be no restriction on attending but unfortunately supervision requirements can mean you might miss out if too many want to attend.  What a shame it is that you cannot tell just by looking at a prisoner whether he is a genuine worshiper or not.

Joke: How can you tell its Christmas? - You get sprouts at dinner time!  The rest of the time it was cabbage and carrots.