The Welcome Directory
Linking prisoners to faith communities
The Welcome Directory has a dream: to create a faith community database which covers every Methodist district across England and Wales so that every person leaving prison can be supported back into society.
“At the moment, prison chaplains use the internet to try and find a faith community for a prisoner,” says Jonathan Green, Development Coordinator for the charity, “The Welcome Directory changes all that by providing an online search tool which allows a quick and easy search of a particular faith denomination within a specific geographical area.”
A place to call home
People from many different faith traditions have been consulted in creating a national database that allows prisoners to find a church, synagogue or mosque they can call ‘home’ upon release and where they can get some much-needed practical, emotional and spiritual support.
The Welcome Directory, which works closely with the multi-faith prison chaplaincy teams across the country, also provide training on how faith communities can best support people leaving prison.
The Mission and Ministry grant of £140,000 awarded in the 2017/2018 financial year will enable the Welcome Directory to hire more staff and boost its fund raising and communication activities. The funding will also allow the charity to partner with several Methodist Districts and help churches and circuits to build relationships with their local prisons.
Reducing the risk
There are currently around 86,000 prisoners in 120 prisons across England and Wales, 15% of who take part in worship. Methodist Chaplains make up approximately 20% of all chaplains from the Free Church Tradition.
“Research has shown the strong impact that a welcoming and supportive faith community can have upon reducing reoffending,” explains Jonathan. “We are also aiming to change society’s perceptions on prisoners. Everyone leaving prison has a name, a story to tell and hopes for their lives beyond the prison gate.”
Find out more about The Welcome Directory here.