Thropton WI, April meeting

HMP Northumberland.
HMP Northumberland.

At the April meeting of Thropton WI, we congratulated our domino team who finished as runners-up in the Northumberland competition.

In the Reading Aloud competition, our team is through to the final to be held in May.

We thanked Beverley for a really interesting trip to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal where we had a guided tour backstage followed by lunch in one of Grey Street’s Italian restaurants.

Our speaker this month was Gabby Llewellyn who gave us an insight into the working life of a prison chaplain.

Having trained as an Anglican priest, Gabby was, until retirement, based latterly at the prison in Acklington. This is a category C prison catering for male prisoners.

A team of five chaplains covering the major religions work at the prison and they serve both the prisoners and the staff.

Every prisoner receives a visit within 24 hours of arriving at the prison. Gabby explained that their role is to be there for the prisoners and be non-judgmental.

The work involves breaking both bad news from home, like a death in the family, and good news such as the birth of a child.

When there is a death or suicide in the prison, the chaplains help the men deal with their feelings.

Much of their time is spent chatting and listening to prisoners and generally being a calm presence in a noisy and often chaotic environment.

Gabby was involved with the Prison Fellowship Sycamore Tree programme. This is a victim awareness programme that teaches the principles of restorative justice. A group of 20 prisoners at a time commit to attend the course where they think about how their actions have affected their victims.

Angel Tree is another project run by the Prison Fellowship. This provides Christmas presents for the children of prisoners along with a personal message. This supports family relationships and has been shown to reduce re-offending.

A variety of questions followed which provided further insight into life in prison and then Gabby was warmly thanked for her talk.

The next meeting on Wednesday, May 6, will be our annual meeting with Prudence Marks. This takes place in Thropton War Memorial Hall at 7pm. Visitors are welcome.