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.