As part of our Christmas Day giving last year, as a church, we gave toward Prison Fellowship’s Sycamore Tree Course. Andy Kerr (Chaplain at HMP Ford/Lewes) has sent this update:

“The course is now going ahead at HMP Ford starting this October. It is an accredited course delivered in prisons across the UK, run by trained volunteers and considered to be a great agent of change.

The course is made up of 6 sessions of two-and-a-half hours, each involving structured talking, sharing experiences and encouragement to reassess the past. A key point in the course is when participants meet face-to-face with a victim of crime and are encouraged to relate the issues raised by victims to their own offending experiences. Offenders are also asked to complete a workbook throughout the course—both in and outside session time—and this is assessed upon completion and offers an opportunity to gain a qualification accredited by Gateway Qualifications.

The course draws on restorative justice theory, inviting offenders to consider the impact of crime and to meet with victims—enabling them to take responsibility for their actions and develop a greater capacity for empathy. The course culminates in a voluntary act of restitution in front of members of the community, victims, prison staff and fellow offenders.

Thank you so much for supporting this work. We must keep in mind that on the doorstep of ACC we have 500 men camped out in temporary accommodation, away from their families, and many wanting to positively change their future. What an opportunity to be involved.”