A therapeutic space

Sheila Stevenson discusses the 2018 Quaker prison chaplains’ conference

‘Working as part of a multi-faith team’ was the theme at this year’s conference at Woodbrooke for Quaker prison chaplains. I found it interesting and enjoyable, with a good blend of learning, sharing, challenge and support. The first plenary speaker was Ahtsham Ali, Muslim adviser for the Prison and Probation Service. He started by addressing the question: ‘Why enable faith in prison?’ He quoted a study by the HM Prison and Probation Service Chaplaincy HQ showing the positive influence of encouraging involvement by prisoners with their chosen faith group. It reduces anxiety because prisoners can feel safe in custody. It offers hope; changes motivation, leading to a desire for change; helps towards victim awareness and rehabilitation by instilling the idea of ‘love for brother and love for self’; increases empathy for others; and encourages the seeking of forgiveness and repentance.

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