Bishop and clergy members help inmates with some DIY at Bedford Prison

Bishop of Bedford, the Rt Rev Richard Atkinson, painting at Bedford Prison.
Bishop of Bedford, the Rt Rev Richard Atkinson, painting at Bedford Prison.

The Bishop of Bedford rolled up his sleeves and got down to some DIY with inmates during a prison’s community week.

The Rt Rev Richard Atkinson was joined by 11 members of the clergy at HMP Bedford where they repainted a blackboard and part of the children’s play area in the visitors’ hall, and painted a triptych for the wall. They also helped prepare a curry in the prison kitchen and produce a leaflet about leaving prison.

The group worked alongside prisoners from all parts of the jail throughout the day, which was held as part of the prison’s week-long rehabilitation programme to enable offenders to live decent and productive lives within the community after release.

Area Dean of Bedford Canon Richard Hibbert said: “It was really positive to get alongside the prison community, share in their life and make a small difference.

“In particular, I enjoyed working with the kitchen staff, who are clearly dedicated to providing a good meal within tight constraints.”

The building community week was organised by prison chaplain Sharon Grenham-Toze who says inmates ‘don’t magically know’ how to rejoin society without positive guidance and role modelling.

She said: “The week has been a lot of hard work, but hugely worthwhile. It’s been great to see prisoners engaging with what it means to build positive relationships, as well as thinking about what a ‘common life’ entails.

“And the support from the local community, particularly the clergy, has been much appreciated. I hope we can build on these insights and links to create a safer, more positive community for all.”

She added the week was as much for boosting staff moral and team building given working in a prison is a stressful, demanding and ‘often apparently fruitless’ occupation.

Other activities included a singing workshop, banner making, healthy lifestyle sessions and a football tournament. Staff were also able to visit Queens Park Mosque to meet the imam and gain a better insight into Islam.