Prison & Ex-Offenders

Jesus clearly calls us to work with prisoners Mark 2:17. The church is in a unique position to do this as we already have hundreds of communities across Bristol with the potential to help ex-prisoners.

The challenge

Reoffending currently costs the British taxpayer over £10 billion per year, with 60% of prisoners reoffending within two years of release. More locally, Bristol has been ranked as the 329th worst area in the UK for all crimes committed (out of 348), a significant percentage of these committed by ex-prisoners.

Reoffending though, is more than about figures, its greatest cost is human. For every re-offence there is a new victim of crime, for every offender sent back to prison there are consequences for their families - nearly 200,000 children have a parent in prison across the UK. These children are more likely to go to prison when they are older. So the cycle continues.

Yet many prisoners want to lead lives free from crime, but they need support, particularly in the community, to do this. Government support for this type of work had been drastically reduced over the last decade.

The response

Bristol has a rich history in this area with charities such as:

  • Aspire is a social enterprise providing training, work experience and employability support for vulnerable and socially excluded people (including ex-prisoners)

  • Changing Tunes is a charity that uses music and mentoring to help people lead meaningful lives, free from crime

  • Julian House supports vulnerable and socially excluded people by providing specialist housing support services, social enterprise projects, and community outreach

  • Nilaari is a culturally appropriate service which delivers counselling for people with mental health issues.

  • Prodigal Arts provides opportunities for talented prisoners and ex-offenders to produce and sell artwork as part of their ongoing rehabilitation

  • Sixty-One is a charity that not only runs its own projects (e.g. MentorMe and the Christmas Gift Project for local prisons) but also acts a co-ordinator for a partnership of charities and churches that supports offenders

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