Bishop of Selby Dr John Thomson has urged parishes to sign up to The Welcome Directory (www.welcomedirectory.org.uk), a fully searchable national directory of faith communities who are prepared to welcome and appropriately support people who have left or are leaving prison.
His comments come as part of the coming week's launch of a collaborative team of bishops headed by Bishop of Gloucester Rachel Treweek as recently-appointed Bishop to HM Prisons, and including Bishop of Lichfield Michael Ipgrave (working with the male estate), Bishop of Derby Libby Lane (young offenders), and which will expand to include a Bishop in the Church of Wales as well as working closely alongside the Revd Helen Dearnley (HMPPS Anglican Chaplaincy Advisor and Headquarters Chaplaincy Advisor for the Female Estate and Private Estate).
Bishop Rachel and Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff are patrons of the Welcome Directory, which enables those leaving prison to search for a faith community nearby and get all the details they will need to make a decision about whether it is suitable. It will be most effective when thousands of faith communities are registered.
Bishop John said, "Release from prison is not easy for ex offenders. Many talk excitedly about getting out of prison when inside but this often masks fear about what awaits them outside. So may I commend the invitation from Bishop Rachel Treweek, The Bishop for HM Prisons, for churches to sign up to the Welcome Directory which lists faith communities willing to be a place of welcome and support for people leaving prison at www.welcomedirectory.org.uk.
"And please pray for our Prison Chaplains in their vital work."