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Caring for Ex-Offenders

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Location Tried: Any or All Locations
Estimated costs: Nothing
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Hosted by: Your church
Activity: Community
Author: HOPE
Published: 29/09/2015

Description

'Caring for Ex-Offenders' vision is to reduce re-offending by reintegrating ex-offenders into society through the local church. They equip churches, through training and advice, to enable them to support ex-offenders live transformed lives.

'Caring for Ex-Offenders' (CFEO) coordinates a link between someone coming out of prison and a local church community, in order to better assist the individual's resettlement into society. They do this by training a CFEO team in a church near to where an ex-offender is relocating, in order to mentor and support them. The mentor establishes a relationship with the individual whilst they are still in prison, visits them if possible, meets them at the gate on release and helps them attend initial appointments and cover their basic needs.

The church CFEO team can then offer friendship, and help individuals recently released from prison to achieve their goals for resettlement and live as part of a stable community.

Rationale

Coming out of prison can be a daunting experience. Not only are there practical issues of finding accommodation, employment and meeting basic needs, it can also be emotionally and socially challenging as an ex-offender seeks to reintegrate into a community. Often ex-offenders have negative social contacts, or are living in a completely new area, which can be isolating.

The benefits of being linked to a church for support upon release from prison are the immediate availability of a supportive and welcoming community; a support network of a mentor and befrienders who can walk with ex-offenders through the early steps, encouraging them as they work towards achieving their hopes and goals for the future.

As the local church, we are called to be Christ's hands and feet on Earth; and who's better than the body of Christ to be demonstrating his grace and concern for those who've been in prison, and for their loved ones? CFEO offers churches the support, tools and advice to welcome and care for ex-offenders in their community.

Supporting an individual who has been in prison can require a persistence and a willingness to go to the extra mile. This is why CFEO encourages a team based approach, rather than linking an individual to just one person within a church. This means the responsibility of support can be shared and there will always be an available point of contract for the individual.

Outcome

A Testimony from Tom, an ex-offender, he has been out of prison for over ten years, is still attending church, and is strong in his faith:

"The most critical or vital part in an inmate's walk with God is that moment of release. If there's no-one there to take them in and give them a chance, or a blessing, they have no hope. When I came out, someone from the church met me, which was quite profound. He brought me into a family. Lots of these guys inside have no family but relationships are what it is all about. It's not just me getting to know the church, it's the church getting to know me."

A church leader, London: "When the formal reopening of our church took place, one of the passions of our community that became clear was to be a church for all people. From the early days of our existence as a congregation, various members of the congregation had a desire for us to be a church that cares for ex-offenders. We organised an evening's training for prison ministry and caring for those on the fringes of society, and it was there that an initial enthusiasm was fanned into flame. We spoke about it, met a few times and have put in place what is required for us to care for those who have been released from prison, so we do it in a way that cares for us our fledgling congregation as well as integrating the ex-offender into the life of the church. A few of the community have taken advantage of the CFEO training and we are putting things in a place that will enable us to welcome an an ex-offender into the life of our community."

"The team at CFEO HQ have been great, providing advice and training where needed. I love how CFEO looks for the right fit on both sides and takes the timing into account. It is only in the last month or so that we have really been in a position, practically and pastorally to welcome an ex-offender, and CFEO simply maintains a dialogue with us. I am really looking forward to our community being enriched by our partnership with CFEO as we seek to serve God in this way."

To find out more, or to join the network, please contact the CFEO team at:
www.caringforexoffenders.org
E: info@caringforexoffenders.org
T: 0207 052 0332

Grants are available. See www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk for details.


This idea can be found on page 163 of Hope Heartbeat ©2013 HOPE08 Ltd. For more ideas, Hope Heartbeat is available for purchase from the website above.



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