On being a prison chaplain

The historic Quaker concern for prisons continues today through the contribution of Quakers working within prison chaplaincy teams. At present, over ninety prisons in Britain benefit from a Quaker Prison Chaplain (QPC).

Prison wall with metal fencing and blue skies.
Looking on from outside the defended prison wall. Photo credit: geograph.co.uk

Quaker Prison Chaplains work within multi-faith prison chaplaincy teams to offer spiritual support and friendship to prisoners of all faiths and none. QPCs reach out to some of the most vulnerable people in our society when they are very often alone and unsupported within the prison environment.

One of the Prison Chaplains, Heather Lister shares her experiences in the following poem:

Chaplain, by Heather Lister

The prison has a tall brick tower

A clock that stands at half past two all day,

And ragged clouds that race through frozen skies

Over high walls and coils of sharpened wire.

The lives are bleak that lie and wait below –

Rapist, murderer and arsonist.

I cannot know

The struggle and the hurt that brought them here,

Those who are fixtures on this sorry list.

And often nor can they;

Some are so young - and look quite ordinary,

And some use blades against their own young skin.

Walking the wings, I call through each small hatch

“Are you OK?"

And men are rising to their feet in hope

Day after day. Some call to me – “Miss! Miss!"

I lean against the metal door to hear.

And there is anger, grief and haunting shame,

And there is courage and good company.

So fragile is the trust

That every turning of a key destroys.

But all the same

Leaving, I look back from the busy street

And think again “Yes – there they are. My boys."

More about prison chaplains