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Building hope amidst prison distress  

Churches are being encouraged to support a national annual prayer initiative focused on "crisis-hit" prisons.

Give a key to a prisonerThe Prisons Week alliance of charities has highlighted how prisons are experiencing increasing levels of distress in the wake of budget cuts of more than 24 per cent in the last three years.

Suicides in custody have risen by 69 per cent in the last year and incidents of self-harm in prison are also on the increase [1]. Additionally there has been a 37 per cent surge in serious assaults on prison staff who are working in challenging conditions. Glyn Travis, of the Prison Officers' Association, recently stated that the prison service is "in crisis".

Prisons Week is run by a broad alliance of Christian denominations and leading faith-based charities working in the criminal justice system, and this year its annual week of collective prayer is on the theme of ‘Building Hope’.

It is asking congregations to pray for prisoners, their families, victims and all those who work to support them.

'By raising awareness and support amongst congregations, we believe the Church can shine God’s light into some of the darkest places and help bring healing, restoration and more positive futures for those behind bars,' it said in a statement.

'With prayer at its root, we hope that the Church will be motivated to engage in practical support for those affected by imprisonment such as volunteering and offering financial support.'

The Building Hope campaign is being launched at Westminster Central Hall on 13 October with special guests, including Fiona Bruce MP and the Rt Revd James Langstaff, the Anglican Bishop to Prisons.

The week of collective prayer is to be held from 16-22 November and there will be a range of awareness raising events taking place across the country throughout the week. More information and resources can be found at: http://www.prisonsweek.org/

Picture: "Give A Key To Prisoner" by sakhorn38 / freedigitalphotos.net

Baptist Times, 19/08/2014
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