The Welcome Directory helps faith communities become places where people who leave prison find acceptance. As a Patron, Bishop Rachel was invited to write the foreword for a new printed edition being distributed in December.
The Welcome Directory is a multi-faith organisation that maintains a directory of registered faith communities who have declared their commitment to welcoming prison leavers and providing them with appropriate support beyond the prison walls. They currently have 313 registered communities across six major world faiths. The website includes a searchable map, and for 2023 a printed copy is being made available.
Emily Green, Project Manager at The Welcome Directory, says, “We are so excited to be launching the new edition of the physical directory for 2023. It marks a massive milestone for us as an organisation, now including over 300 registrations and doubling the number of welcoming faith communities in the space of less than two years.
“We have been incredibly grateful for all of the occasions that Bishop Rachel has raised awareness of our work, encouraged faith leaders to sign up, and promoted us as a charity. Influential voices of those in the sector, like Bishop Rachel, who understand the importance of this work are so valuable, and in turn help to increase the chances of prison leavers resettling well into faith communities and living lives free of crime.
“Whilst reaching the 300 mark is significant for us and one we celebrate, we know we have far more work to do to better serve prison leavers, ensuring wherever they settle, they will find a welcome. We are thankful to Bishop Rachel for joining and supporting us on this journey.”
Below is the foreword written by Bishop Rachel.
The Welcome Directory – Foreword
“Transitions in life are always difficult and this is particularly true for men, women and young people who leave prison each year. Many have discovered faith or gone deeper in their faith whilst serving their sentences, but finding a worshipping community to connect with is yet another challenge when people of all ages are endeavouring to navigate life beyond the prison walls.
“It is usually fraught with uncertainty and there is often fear, bewilderment and a sense of being out of control. Research has shown that many people leaving prisons do not take the step to find a supportive and welcoming church for fear of being rejected. This is deeply sad, and I believe largely avoidable.
“As Anglican Bishop to HM Prisons in England and Wales, I am delighted to be one of the Patrons of The Welcome Directory. This exists to help faith communities identify as being welcoming to prison leavers through a registration scheme and inclusion within a directory.
“As people of faith, we are called to show welcome and hospitality, and in registering with The Welcome Directory, a faith community is simply saying to a person who needs to make a new start in life “you are welcome here”. This means that even before they leave a prison, people will be able to see that there is a community which will welcome them and seek to enable them to continue to explore and grow in their faith.
“It is a simple idea, but a powerful one, which speaks of the possibility of belonging, discovering restored relationships and an ever-greater openness to the generous love of God. Whatever your faith or belief, in taking the practical step of engaging with The Welcome Directory, your faith community can begin to be an answer to prayer.
“To those already included within its pages – thank you. And to those up and down the country considering how to better serve prison leavers – I commend The Welcome Directory to you and hope that you too will become part of it, so that prison leavers with faith will receive the welcome and acceptance they deserve.”
The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek
Bishop of Gloucester and Anglican Bishop for His Majesty’s Prisons
Patron – The Welcome Directory
All contributors will receive a copy of the printed directory along with all prison establishments and approved premises. It will also be available as a PDF on The Welcome Directory website: www.welcomedirectory.org.uk
If you are interested in learning more about The Welcome Directory, please email: ku.gr1695467687o.yro1695467687tceri1695467687democ1695467687lew@n1695467687imda1695467687
This animated short, produced by The Welcome Directory, explains more about their work.