The Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Revd Rachel Treweek, has created a collaborative team to support her in her role as Anglican Bishop for HM Prisons in England and Wales.
Bishop Rachel is tasked with supporting the network of 300 Anglican Prison Chaplains who share in the front-line care of prisoners, as well as developing relationships and being involved with people and issues across the breadth of the Criminal Justice System.
This includes probation and community services, as well as many different charities and organisations.
In all of this, Bishop Rachel seeks to use her role as a Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords, not least working for a change to systems and sentencing for the most vulnerable people in our communities, whilst not losing sight of appropriate justice for victims of crime.
Bishop Libby will support Bishop Rachel in work with young offenders, which will be a natural extension to her work as vice-chair of The Children's Society.
Bishop Libby said, “I am delighted to be joining this team and look forward to working with Bishop Rachel and Bishop Michael with other partners working across the criminal justice system. I have a particular passion to see restorative justice leading to transformed lives with meaningful integration and contribution to community. Sharing with this team complements the work I currently engage with through The Children’s Society in our shared commitment to the most vulnerable, and at risk, children and young people in our land.”
The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield, will support with the male estate and bring his experience of being in a diocese with a number of prisons.
The Team will work closely with the Revd Helen Dearnley, HMPPS Anglican Chaplaincy Advisor.
Bishop Rachel said, “I will be involved across the breadth of the prison estate, but I am hoping that this collaborative approach will enable more prisons to be visited and will provide deeper insight and shared learning. We will of course be working in close liaison with bishops in every diocese where prisons are situated and who remain responsible for the licensing and everyday pastoral care of their Anglican prison chaplains.”
The new episcopal prison team marked the beginning of their work together on Thursday 29 July 2021 with a joint visit to the Diocese of Lichfield where each visited separate prisons.
Bishop Rachel visited HMP Featherstone and HMP Oakwood; Bishop Michael visited HMP Brinsford and Bishop Libby visited HMP Werrington.
Over the last few years Bishop Rachel was Bishop for Women’s Prisons and has undertaken a huge amount in campaigning for prison reform and community rehabilitation for women in the criminal justice system, or at risk of offending. She now wants to develop that collaborative way of working.