Prisons are here
There are four prisons in the Diocese of Guildford with a combined population of over 2,000 people.
- HMP Send - A women’s prison, close to Woking, for up to 281 prisoners, with a wide geographic origin, and a diverse mix of people, some engaged with long term therapeutic courses and interventions through to short term prisoners only with us for a few months.
- HMP Downview - A prison that holds 355 women and young offenders in Sutton. The characteristics of the population is varied and diverse, with the majority of our prisoners originating from the London area or the South East of England.
- HMP Coldingley - A training prison with a capacity to hold 513 men working towards resettlement in the community, located at Bisley, near Woking.
- HMP High Down - A men’s “local” prison, next door to Downview, with the capacity to hold 1163 prisoners
- HMP & Young Offenders Bronzefield is also just outside of the diocese
The Chaplaincy Teams
HMP Send - The Revd Lesley Mason
HMP Downview - The Revd Beverly Fraser
HMP Coldingley - The Revd Rod Sanders
HMP Highdown - The Revd Egerton Gbonda
Prison Chaplaincy Work
What is chaplaincy work? It varies in each prison but can include:
- Vibrant and contemplative worship, services and classes for 12 or more different world faiths, depending on the mix of prisoners at any time, including faith-related courses like Alpha or Christianity Explored
- Pastoral support through the ups and downs of prison life, through bereavement issues and family difficulties, and care for people at risk of self-harm and suicide
- Non-faith related courses like Sycamore Tree (victim awareness), Living with Loss (bereavement and other major losses), Making Sense of Forgiveness, or Parenting Skills
- Preparation for release, including the Making Connections mentoring programme for those approaching release, and referrals to faith communities for ongoing support
- Social activities, card making, music and choirs, prison visitors for those with no family visits, and a host of other things, aiming to be at the heart of the prison community
A story from one of our Chaplains
Being pretty new in in the prison service, I was met with this pleasant surprise when I started working at Highdown Prison - seeing a vibrant church!! Despite the fact that the worshipers have had boring times in their cells, it surprised me that they are full of joy when they come to chapel. You can see the joy in their expressions of worship - raising their hands and dancing to the glory of God. Definitely you know the worshippers are troubled, because towards the end of the service a good number of them will willingly come and ask the priest and volunteers for prayer. But they are not crushed, and praise their Lord and Saviour exuberantly, saying to all of us:
“Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still my heart and tongue employ”.
Prison Chaplaincy teams face a number of unique challenges when serving their populations. Asides from the issues typically associated with prisons, particularly through the media, many of our prisons house their populations for very short periods of time before they are moved onto a new facility. This leaves a very small window for the chaplaincy teams to be an example of Jesus to the prison population.
Prison Chaplaincy also often suffers from lack of staff resource and time. Chaplaincy teams may be small and have limited time to offer activities and opportunities to people due to the structured nature of the days.
The process of recruiting volunteers to support the programmes run by the chaplaincy can also be long, preventing people making their desired impact.
With so many challenges being faced by prison chaplaincy supporting those working there, from praying to donating bibles, is essential.
Welcome Them In
If you and your church are able to welcome ex-offenders into your worshipping community please get in touch with the Revd Lesley Mason, HMP Send Managing Chaplain, at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to a directory.
Make a Donation
Prison chaplaincy work in the diocese is supported through the charity The Nazareth Way - view their website for further details and donation information.
Please pray for your local prison. Special needs and prayer requests will be posted below.
Invite a Chaplain to Speak
It is possible for a chaplain to speak at a church event about their
work and ministry. Please contact your local chaplain below to work out a
- Could you spare a regular Sunday morning to worship with us?
- Can you give us admin support a couple of hours/a day (s) per week?
- Could you provide someone who is at a low ebb with a needed ‘listening ear’
- Could you become a regular visitor to someone who gets no visits
- Could you help as a volunteer on the courses we run, or become a mentor?
So if you feel called to find out more just ring your local prison chaplain, details below, for a chat!
Prison Chaplaincy Team
HMP High Down: Revd Egerton Gbonda | 020 7147 6325 | email@example.com
HMP/YOI Downview: Revd Beverley Fraser | 020 8196 6314 | firstname.lastname@example.org
HMP Send: Revd Lesley Mason | 01483 471131 | email@example.com
HMP Coldingley; Revd Rod Sanders | 01483 344370 | roderick.Sanders@hmps.gsi.gov.uk