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Guest Blog: Prisons Week 2021

By Tom Currie is Chair of the Yellow Ribbon Trustees.

Hello, my name is Tom Currie, I am the Chairman of the Trustees of a very special charity called Yellow Ribbon. I want to talk to you about Yellow Ribbon, on behalf of all who work within it, for it and on behalf of it, but more importantly I want to speak on behalf of those we seek to help. Predominantly men in prison, and returning to the community. You are not forgotten; you matter more than you may realise. We work alongside the Prison and Probation Service, and many other partners. We are a Christian organisation, originally founded to provide housing for those leaving prison. But it has always been much more than just a roof over peoples’ heads. We are called to enable change in people’s lives. By having Christ at the centre of all we do, we hope to share the good news that Jesus died for all so that our sins are forgiven. This offers a new life, a new hope and a new way of living.

Yellow Ribbon was established in 2013 as a ‘through the gate’ registered charity. It was founded in the desperate need of individuals, coming out of prison who all too quickly get stuck in a repetitive cycle of drugs, alcohol and poor mental health, then finding themselves back in prison. Our aim is to break this cycle and help them move forward.

We receive referrals from all prisons and provide active support for people upon release in Staffordshire, West Midlands, Telford and Shropshire, and Worcester. We provide one to one mentoring, guidance and practical help and are supported in this by a brilliant team of community chaplains and housing support-staff.

Yellow Ribbon provides the critical through the gate support so often needed by those who are being released from prison. Support services include: -

* Addiction support

* Mental Health Support and wellbeing

* Debt management and budget advice

* Employment and Life Skills

* Support for Families

Believing that forgiveness and reconciliation are key to welcoming people out of prison and back into society we befriend, assist, challenge and seek to change behaviour that may have led to offending. By offering accommodation, one to one mentoring, chaplaincy support and helping ex-offenders address issues, we believe that lives can be turned around. Yellow Ribbon fully recognises the importance of a safe and stable environment from which our residents can begin the journey back to a place in society where they are valued, and they value themselves. We have properties in Telford, Shrewsbury, Stafford and Walsall, with links to independent tenancies with landlords and housing associations.

Prison Chaplains work with people who often find it hard to believe that God has any interest in them or their lives. In the same way, those whose lives have been marred by crime and its effects, or whose work brings them into daily contact with its destructiveness, often struggle to see a new future in which the promise of freedom in Christ might be fulfilled. This Prisons Week we give thanks that the freedom which God offers is available to all, even to those whose liberty has been temporarily or permanently taken away by society. God’s will and intention for all his people is freedom; freedom to be the people He created them to be.

If you are leaving prison and the resettlement team or your probation officer has referred you, a support worker can sometimes meet you at the prison gates. If you are making your own way to our centre in Telford, we are just a few minutes walk from the local Rail and Bus stations, based at Meeting Point House in Southwater Square. Otherwise, you will be given full contact details prior to release from prison.

Yellow Ribbon is a Christian Community Chaplaincy. What we do is to support you in accommodation, in training and education; through and into work or volunteering. When you are ready for change, we will support you; if you are not yet ready for change, we will support you. We may be challenging, but we will always be loving, supportive and respectful. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you” (Matthew 7.7) What we don’t do in Yellow Ribbon is to compel anyone to follow Christ; it is entirely your decision, and between you and Jesus.
During this Prisons Week, Yellow Ribbon will be joining others in prayer and thought for those in prison; for those nearing their
release, and for those in the community.

Prayer for Prisons week:
Lord, you offer freedom to all people. We pray for those in prison. Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist. Support with your love all prisoners and their families and friends, prison staff, probation officers, support charities and those who care. Heal those who have been wounded by the actions of others, especially the victims of crime. Help us to forgive one another, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with Christ in his strength and in his Spirit, now and every day.
Amen

Tom Currie is Chair of the Yellow Ribbon Trustees. After over 40 years experience in the Criminal Justice System. Tom retired in 2017 from his role as Head of the National Probation Service in West Mercia, working within the HMPPS Directorate of the Ministry of Justice. Tom is a lifelong Christian and Reader in the Church of England.

https://yellowribbonuk.org – 01952 878592 – Charity Number: 1168292

Published 8th October

Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/@manthan0gajjar