Photo Credit: Mothers' Union
[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] Mothers’ Union (MU) members are being invited to focus their prayers around prisoners, prison staff and the families of prisoners this week. In a special partnership with Prisons Week, which runs from 13 -19 October in the UK, the MU has been supplying information about how to pray and show love and practical care for prisoners and their families throughout the world.
Mothers’ Union members work with prisoners and their families, helping them to stay together. This support includes literacy training and parenting education. In the UK, members run family support days and crèches in visitor centres, provide books so prisoners and their young relatives can share positive experiences, and at Christmas they send Christmas cards to prisoners and gifts to their children.
Vira Marthe, Provincial Community Development Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said they had an active ministry reaching out in prisons. She said: “in the Diocese of North Kivu we have a visitors programme where we visit, pray and run vocational skills training. They make handcrafts, nappies and other products by hand. They are happy when Mothers’ Union members arrive because they are entertained and eat well.”
Sue Rivers, Mothers’ Union Diocesan President in Llandaff, Wales, talked about the work they are doing in the local prison. “We are doing such wonderful work in Parc Prison in supporting families and the men who find themselves in prison. By providing a safe area for children to play during prison visiting times, families are able to have deep and meaningful conversations with their relatives, be it partners, husbands and wives, sons and mothers, grandsons and grandparents. It also facilitates quality time with their children in a non-threatening environment.”
The MU recognises that families are affected in many ways when a family member is imprisoned and the children are often the innocent victims. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that no child should be discriminated against because of the situation or status of their parents.
“Mothers’ Union, through our work in facilitating the play area, is supporting children and preventing discrimination,” Sue Rivers said. “In some way we are doing Christ’s work through volunteering in the Play Area in Parc Prison.”
Prisons Week of prayer was set up by a group of UK prison chaplains more than 40 years ago and was quickly adopted by the churches as an annual prayer focus. This year the charity has distributed 70,000 leaflets on the week aiming to pray for the 80,000 strong prison population in England and Wales and more than 95,000 children who have a parent in prison.