Prisons Week: By Revd Tricia Roberts, Chaplain at HMP Bristol


First published 12th October 2021

Prisons Week image

Prisons Week runs from 10-16 October 2021, to raise awareness and generate prayer for the needs of all those affected by prisons: prisoners and their families, victims of crime and their communities, those working in the criminal justice system and the many people who are involved in caring for those affected by crime on the inside and outside of our prisons.

Picture of TriciaTo mark Prisons Week, Revd Tricia Roberts, Anglican Chaplain at HMP Bristol, tells us about the prison and gives suggestions on how to pray for it:

"Bristol Prison is a Category B local prison. This means that most of the men in the prison are not there for more than 18 months and very often for only for weeks before they are transferred to other prisons. Most prisoners are local to Bristol, Bath and Gloucester although some come from further afield.

Many men are on remand and at present court dates are taking a long time to come through and even after being found guilty men may have to wait weeks for sentencing. We also have a high number of men who return to prison on recall; some simply for not returning to a hostel on time. The majority of our residents will come to prison with some form of addiction, and many have mental health issues. Most of our new arrivals have previously served time in prison and it is not unusual to greet someone who we only said goodbye to a few weeks before.

Some of the issues the chaplaincy deals with include bereavement and loss of contact with family members. Grief, boredom and anger are the emotions we encounter most frequently.

I only started as Anglican Chaplain at Bristol Prison in the summer but the three things I am most grateful for are:

  • The Bibles and other books given to the prison for us to distribute to the men.
  • The privilege of being able to walk alongside men at some of the worst times of their lives.
  • The fact that the government pay me and every day I can pray for people in need.

I have also been very impressed by the help that so many churches in Bristol offer to the prisoners; both in prison and when they leave. Thank you.

If you would like to pray for the prison here are a few suggestions on how to pray:

  1. Pray for the men and their families – the stress of separation is both emotional and financial.
  2. Pray for protection for all working and living in prison. Violence is frequently a response to conflict.
  3. Pray for the staff, especially the prison officers. There is often a shortage of staff and stress related absence in not uncommon. They work long demanding hours.
  4. Pray for prisoners who self-harm and all who need help with their mental health.
  5. Pray that when alone in their cells men would encounter God and know peace. Often fears and worries prey on their minds and getting a good night’s rest can be a problem.
  6. Pray for those who want to turn their lives around but face daily temptations to return to old patterns of behaviour.
  7. Pray for the chaplaincy team that we might work well together. We are a multi-faith team all of whom seek to bless the men we serve.
  8. Pray that men would turn to Christ and know the power of his forgiveness and grace."

Prisons Week has a prayer leaflet that is available here