Community Chaplaincy has worked successfully in Canada for more than a quarter of a Century, and has been developing in Britain since 2000, with support from Churches' Criminal Justice Forum, Prison Chaplaincy, and the Salvation Army. In 2006 the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and Prison Service Chaplaincy HQ funded Clinks, the infrastructure body that supports voluntary sector organisations working with offenders and their families to employ a full time community chaplaincy development officer. Nathan Dick took up this 2-year post at Clinks.
Community Chaplaincies are independent faith based voluntary sector organisations. They contribute to the well-being of society for all through practical and spiritual support and advocacy prior and post release to offenders and their families". By delivering both mentoring and befriending services through employed professionals and trained volunteers these projects can significantly improve the likelihood of an ex-offender successfully resettling and reintegrating with their local community.
Community Chaplaincy Aims
- To contribute to building safer communities
- Reducing crime, protecting the public and consequently reducing the numbers of victims of crime
- To enable ex-offenders to break the cycle of re offending
- To improve the life chances for ex offenders
- To maintain faith community involvement in developing community solutions locally - working with prison chaplains, the probation service and NOMS and the wider Government to champion this approach
- Integrating with and complementing the voluntary and statutory sector to ensure a holistic approach to work with offenders in custody and the community
- Proactively address race and wider equality issues to meet the specific and different needs of women, black and Asian ethnic minority groups, and disabled offenders, recognising the diversity that exists in our prisons
The services they deliver
We provide trained mentors or befrienders (both employed and voluntary) to assist offenders with their resettlement needs.
We work to deliver practical and spiritual support and advocacy in the following areas (informed by NOMS)
- Accommodation (housing needs both temporary and long-term)
- Skills and employment (including job hunting, training and education opportunities)
- Support to the Children and Families of offenders
- Finance, Benefit and Debt
- Substance misuse
- Health issues
- Attitudes, thinking and behaviour (promoting social interaction and integration)
- Spiritual and pastoral support
The commitment of the mentor or befriender begins, ideally, before the prisoner is released. The two meet to begin to establish a working relationship, and identify issues of importance. A care plan can then be produced, with other relevant agencies, identifying how best the prisoner's needs can be met. With the guidance of the Community Chaplaincy in partnership with the Prison, Probation and Offender Management services offenders will, if necessary, be linked with specialist local agencies dealing with issues such as accommodation, employment and training, substance misuse and so on. After release community chaplaincies strive to be both mentor and friend, helping the prisoner to put down roots and establish a climate in which the risk of re-offending is reduced.
Projects will try to support those who are on a faith journey, and link the person with a supportive church or faith community if requested. Under no circumstances do community chaplaincies evangelise or proselytise. They work with offenders of all faiths and none.
Volunteers working with community chaplaincies will not need to have relevant experience as training is provided. Volunteers will need willing to accept direction from the local co-ordinator and observe agreed boundaries to maintain a safe working environment. They must be prepared to respond in a caring and positive way to people, who because of their life experiences may be both difficult and demanding to work with. If you would like further information on how you could get involved or further information on volunteering opportunities please click here.