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Confirmed with new hope

14 March 2007

by Margaret Duggan

ELEVEN YOUNG men, aged between 18 and 21, have just been baptised and confirmed by the Assistant Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd John Austin, in the chapel of the Glen Parva Young Offender Institute. The Chaplain, the Revd Alison Adams, says it was a moving occasion, and the young men were supported by their families and friends, and by church members. Music was provided by the Glen Parva Band, one of whose members was recently confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church.

The young men, Mrs Adams says, are understandably nervous about the future. They have committed a range of offences, and no one can guarantee that they won’t reoffend. But she believes they have come to a serious faith, even though their original motive in coming to chapel might just have been to meet their mates. They have asked interminable questions, “and have found respect, companionship, laughter, and love among the chapel community”. Yet, she says, they are criminals, and a realistic response is needed in helping them not to reoffend, nor to make those who help them their next victims. Many of them have no church connections outside prison. “As one of them put it: ‘My family are criminals. How do I live with them, and yet lead a different life?’”

For all these reasons, a community chaplaincy called Futures Unlocked is being set up in the city of Leicester and in the county to help faith communities support ex-prisoners, and to raise awareness about criminal-justice issues.

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