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Viewpoint from Rev Susan Carne 21/12/2018

SUSAN CARNEProject Manager, Community Chaplaincy-Norfolk

as published in the Yarmouth Mercury


Advent is the time of year where we throw ourselves into our preparations for celebrating the most important birthday there has ever been. The birth of Jesus Christ, fulfilling the prophecies in the Old Testament, was announced to a young virgin called Mary by the Angel Gabriel. Times of revelation and preparation are found in all our lives. For many of the people that we support there has been a moment or period of revelation. They have then made a decision that they want to turn their lives around and not return to prison. This is a huge ask: the equivalent of asking a casual hill walker to climb Mount Everest

dove leftWithin our prisons there are many services that offer inmates opportunities to prepare for release. Community Chaplaincy-Norfolk offers support before, during, and post release. Research shows, and our clients testify to the fact that having the support of a mentor can make a huge difference, not just in reducing reoffending but in supporting a person in their efforts to build a crime free and useful life back in the community

“Thank you, I couldn’t have done it without your help” says one. “I gave myself two months before going back inside but now I know I never have to go back to prison again” says another after fifteen months

Our volunteer mentors work with our clients to draw up a plan that helps them work towards their goal of a stable life in the community. Many are met on the day of release and accompanied to those first vital appointments with probation, housing, and the benefits office. Weekly meetings ensure that plans are progressed, mistakes are learned from and new opportunities are explored

Dove rightIs this easy and straightforward? Certainly not. For some, the harsh realities of living in community with no supportive relationships, a lack of housing, and battling addictions, low income, and demons from the past prove too much and they return to prison. However there they are revisited by our mentors and encouraged to keep trying

Advent is a preparation time. As we anticipate Christmas Day and enjoy all the activities surrounding this time perhaps we could spare a thought for those who will be locked up for most of the day. May part of our preparation this year be to think about those less fortunate than ourselves. May part of our giving be to organisations that help to make a difference to other peoples’ lives. Let’s share what we have with those who do not have

The birth of Jesus was a generous act of love. May God’s generosity to us be reflected in our generosity to those less fortunate than ourselves this Christmas and through 2019 and beyond

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the scheme, or would like us to come and talk to your group or church about our work please contact Rev Susan Carne at

Website:   Charity Number  1180579


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