Prisons Sunday is now the second Sunday in October and Prisons Week continues throughout the week until the following Saturday. An ecumenical Prisons Week Committee was formed in 1975 to encourage Christians to focus their thoughts and prayers, upon prisoners and their families, victims of offenders, prison staff and all those working for prisoners and their families.

Britain’s prisons are in the news more than ever, and generating more grave headlines. The same words and phrases keep cropping up: crisis, scrutiny, overcrowding, violence, prison officer action, private companies, drugs, drones, “disaster waiting to happen”. . .

Good things happen, too – good rehabilitation, good preparation for life “on the outside” – not least through the work of chaplains, visitors and volunteers. The Methodist Church is deeply engaged with this good work and also supports Prisons Week through the Free Church Group.

Prisons Week aims to encourage prayer, and awareness of the needs of prisoners and their families, victims of offenders, prisons staff and all those who work within the justice system. It begins with Prisons Sunday – the second Sunday in October – and runs through until the following Saturday: 14-20 October.

This year the overarching theme is “Boldly Go”, inspired by a verse in the letter to the Hebrews:

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Prisons Week has its own website, with prayers and leaflet to use throughout the week. Here are StF’s suggestions of hymns to accompany the week’s prayers. (PDF)

The Methodist Church has also provided worship materials, including hymn suggestions.

For further information, a basic guide to what to expect from prison life can be found on the Government’s own website:

Also see the Prison Reform Trust and the Howard League for Penal Reform.