Bedford Archdeaconry?s Lent focus on Transforming Communities follows their emphasis last year on Going Deeper into God.
?Clergy and Readers from Bedford Deanery along with Bishop Richard and prison chaplain the Revd Sharon Grenham Toze, went into Bedford Prison, for the prison?s Building Community Week.
?Alongside the other activities during the week, which included a visit from Cambridge University Choir and a day on well-being, the Deanery offered their skills for the good of the community in the prison and painted a mural for the Visitor Centre among other things.
?Led by the keen eye of the Revd Gillian Webb, the mural painting team?s fresco was a townscape and trainline, and included a church and a mosque.
?They also repainted the blackboard and the play area ?fence?, painted a triptych for hanging on the visits hall wall, toured the kitchen and helped to make a curry, and assisted in education with producing leaflets for the Community Resettlement Support Project about ?leaving prison?. There was the chance for the visitors to work alongside prisoners from all parts of the jail, as well as meet some staff and members of the Staff Management Team.
?Many of the prison?s different teams were involved in making the day a success. Among them were: Activities, Education, Kitchen, Chaplaincy, the Ormiston Trust (who run the visits centre), Residential units and Security. Not least, prisoners were also involved in the activities and reported their enjoyment and appreciation that members of the community were taking the time to engage with them and understand their lives.
?The clergy team felt they had learned a great deal, and wished to strengthen their connection with, and support for, the prison and its residents/leavers. Canon Richard Hibbert, the Area Dean of Bedford, and one of the visitors said ?It was really positive to get alongside the prison community, share in their life and make a small difference. In particular, I enjoyed working with the kitchen staff, who are clearly dedicated to providing a good meal within tight constraints.?
?Bishop Richard added: ?I was delighted that we were able to make a modest difference to the experience of prisoners and their visitors through our painting and other things we did. Building on our links with the prison and its chaplaincy it was good to get a further insight into prison life.?