Special Family Day at HMP Forest Bank
On Wednesday 21st December HMP Forest Bank held a special family day for Christmas...
...the wives, partners and families of inmates were invited to attend in the visitor hall. However, unlike usual visits, this time the hall was arranged with activity tables where children could have their faces painted, or make little snowmen and glittery Christmas cards. There was also a small five-a-side football area with child-friendly, soft footballs and two female prison officers wearing Christmas jumpers were playing Christmas music at a sound console.
Prisoners and their partners were chatting together and playing with their children and one young father was cradling his eight-week-old baby girl in his arms for the first time. I had mixed feelings about the whole occasion. On the one hand, it was a joyful time, a chance for families of prisoners to come together and enjoy one another's company for an hour or so, but on the other hand, it seemed profoundly sad.
I minister to prisoners from day to day and I often think of how difficult it is for them to be separated from their loved ones. However, this event has caused me to think once again about their families who are also greatly affected by their incarceration. Wives, partners, parents and other family members struggling with life on the outside without them. I also considered the children involved, how the situation is affecting them and what kind of future they may have ahead of them.
As I surveyed the scene before me I prayed for these families, particularly the children, and I will continue to do so. I pray that they all may find a better way of life. I pray that things will be turned around for them. I pray, of course, that they may come to a saving knowledge of Christ and that these men will take up their God-given roles, saying with Joshua of old “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.