Pact is the national Catholic charity providing support to prisoners and their families. It is good to know that Pact is there for people of all faiths and none. We are all encouraged to play our part in this work of the Gospel for the common good of all, especially on, or around, Sunday 8th October 2023: Prisoners' Sunday.
Archbishop Wilson serves as the Vice President of Pact (The Prison Advice and Care Trust) and the charity operates in 11 prisons and 4 courts within the Archdiocese, as well as in the community. Canon Michael Branch will be welcoming a number of Pact Staff and celebrating Mass at St George's Cathedral on the day: all are welcome to join him in person or online (please see the livestream link at the bottom of this article or click here).
Resources will be available in every parish to help mark the date and pray for those within the justice system, as well as enable everyone to show their support for the charity's work in response to Jesus’ call, ‘I was in prison and you visited me.’ Online resources are also available: please click the link below.
How does Pact Help?
Malc* was nearly at the end of his sentence at a prison. He had been struggling with mental health issues for many years but was working hard to turn his life around on release. He was anxious about leaving prison and finding a place back in society, as many prisoners are. In his cell, Malc was getting a box of belongings ready to help him feel prepared. There were some clothes his parents had sent him so that he had something ‘good’ to wear when he walked out of the gates. His parents probably didn’t realise at the time that sadly neither of them would live to see him released.
While Malc was at a hospital appointment, a young prison officer forgot to lock the cell. When Malc returned, all his carefully collected belongings had been stolen by other prisoners. His mental health collapsed and he was placed on suicide watch. The senior prison staff called on the Pact team to see if they could help.
A member of Pact’s staff sat with Malc and listened to how he was feeling. Eventually, they were able to discuss the items he had lost and decide what was most pressing. Pact was able to obtain some toiletries and other essentials for his last few weeks inside and the charity was also able to reassure him that they would provide him with some respectable clothes to wear when released. They could not carry the same sentimental value as the clothes his mum and dad had given him, but would at least allow him to leave with dignity.
Malc is off suicide watch. He is able to face the future again and he knows that Pact will be there for him.
Pact's CEO, Andy Keen-Downs explains,
‘Our work in prisons and communities across England & Wales ensures that prisoners, children and families are supported; and their dignity is respected and upheld. Where appropriate we help families to make a fresh start together and live lives that bear good fruit. By supporting prisoners to be restored to the community, our work makes communities safer – research shows that prisoners who have good family relationships are 39% less likely to return to crime.
Donate to help prisoners and their families
Pact kindly request that parishes consider taking up a second collection to support the work of charity in the year ahead. Although Prisoners' Sunday takes place on 8th October, a nearby Sunday can be chosen for the second collection if preferred.
Parishioners and Catholic communities can also choose to make a direct donation online:
Your support means that Pact can do more for prisoners and their families.
Parishes are encouraged to get in touch with Pact if they would like someone to speak briefly about the charity's work at Mass on Prisoners’ Sunday: email@example.com
Prisoners’ Sunday Prayers
God of mercy, you offer freedom to all people.
We pray for those in prison and for their children and families.
Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist.
May your love overcome struggle and heartache and bring new life.
Lord God, we commend to you
all who work or volunteer, in courts, prisons and communities.
May they know your presence with them as they work
and may their efforts inspire us to share your love ever more widely.
- The Pact Faith in Action team supports Catholic people and parishes to encounter the voices of people in our communities with lived experience of the criminal justice system, to reflect on Catholic Social Teaching, and to put faith into action. The charity offers JustPeople workshops, diocesan events, and a network of Pact Parish Reps Events | Prison Advice and Care Trust
*Names have been changed to protect identity