Churchgoer's appeal to give 'Fry fivers' for prisoners' children

17 June 2016

DIOCESE OF SOUTHWELL & NOTTINGHAM

Collecting Fry fivers: Janet Lee (left) with members of the Angel Tree Project

Collecting Fry fivers: Janet Lee (left) with members of the Angel Tree Project

AN INITIATIVE to donate the last “Fry fivers” to a charity supporting prisoners and their families has been set up by a churchgoer. The picture on the £5 note of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry will be replaced this summer by an image of Winston Churchill.

Janet Lee, a member of Lowdham Grange Prison Fellowship group in Nottinghamshire, came up with the idea of asking people to donate their last Fry £5 notes to a charity that the campaigner would have wholeheartedly endorsed.

Ms Lee runs the Angel Tree project at HMP Nottingham, which provides Christmas gifts for prisoners to send to their children. There was huge demand for the initiative last year; 186 gifts were sent from HMP Lowdham to more than 100 families, and 90 gifts from HMP Nottingham went to 46 families.

She said: “Each local prison has to be self-funding, solely from donations, mostly from churches or individuals. In 2015, we had such a call on both Lowdham and Nottingham that both coffers are empty. This seemed such a heaven-sent opportunity, as Elizabeth Fry was such an energetic penal reformer, working particularly to improve conditions for women prisoners and their children.”

About 200,000 children in the UK have a parent in prison. The Angel Tree project is running in 200 prisons across England and Wales. The charity also runs a similar scheme to send a card and a gift from young offenders to their mothers on Mothering Sunday.

Elizabeth Fry, a Quaker, is only the second woman to be featured on the reverse of a £5 note, after Florence Nightingale. She first appeared on the note in 2001.

When the news that she was to be replaced by Winston Churchill was announced in 2013, there was protest over the fact that all notes would feature men, apart from the Queen. A petition attracted 35,000 signatures and the Bank of England hurriedly announced that the new £10 note would from 2017 feature Jane Austen.

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