15th October 2021

I was sitting alone – mask on – socially distanced – in Southmead Breast Care Centre awaiting an appointment. Three people came together to the reception, a man and a woman in uniform and a woman in her thirties. The woman was chained to the uniformed woman, so clearly prisoner and prison staff. Covid rules meant only the patient could come into the waiting room so they were told to go back outside to wait. Luckily it was a fine day. Waiting chained to someone else for a possible diagnosis of breast cancer must be hard.

A few weeks ago, Keith was thanked at the end of a service quite emotionally for praying for those in prison. The man’s son is in prison on a long sentence. He commented that those in prison are rarely mentioned in prayers.

When I taught for the Open University I did one-one tutorials as necessary for students in the local prisons, i.e. Horfield, Leyhill, Shepton Mallet. This gave some thought-provoking experiences. You don’t ask what prisoners have done, but Shepton Mallet only took ‘lifers’ so mostly murder and possibly manslaughter.

Half of the Shepton Mallet students I taught had been in the army. One student was scary when you were alone with him in a small office; another was clearly a nasty piece of work. The others were the sort of bloke you meet everyday but somewhere, sometime they had gone badly wrong. Yet they too are children of God and we are firmly told at the end of Hebrews to pray for them.

But we don’t, mostly…….

Margaret Clements