The emotional and spiritual welfare of all at HMP Altcourse is a high priority. The Chaplaincy is a resource for both prisoners and staff, of all faiths or of none.
Full-time, part-time and sessional Chaplains work together to provide opportunities for worship, prayer and study for members of any faith whose practice is permitted in prison. Volunteers provide a valued input to pastoral care and to our programme of groups and courses.
The team currently includes Chaplains and volunteers from the traditions of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Paganism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of the Latter Day Saints.
Members of the core team also contribute a Chaplaincy perspective on a wide range of issues within the prison such as diversity and equality, drugs strategy, safer custody, reducing re-offending and staff training.
The Multi Faith Chaplaincy
HMP Altcourse is fully committed to multi-faith Chaplaincy.
This means that Team members from different faith backgrounds respect, value and support each other's ministry.
All prisoners who wish to practice their faith are treated fairly. Chaplaincy staff and volunteers from all faith backgrounds receive appropriate training and support.
All staff in the prison should understand the importance of faith to those who practice it and all permitted faiths are treated with equal respect. The integrity of all faith groups should be maintained.
Chaplaincy has a duty of care to the whole establishment. As part of this duty staff are required by Home Office regulations to make a daily visit to any prisoner held in Care and Separation Unit or who is resident in the Healthcare centre. We are also required to provide for the practice of any faith permitted in prison by finding a Chaplain and providing a suitable environment for groups to meet for worship and teaching. The issue of religious practice in prisons is under constant review and we take advice as required from Chaplaincy Headquarters and accredited representatives of faith communities to make sure we are doing everything we should to support prisoners in the practice of their faith.
Pastoral care is a major part of our daily work. People who are bereaved, having relationship problems or just feeling the pressure of being (or working) in prison often feel the need to 'talk to someone'. Our job is to provide sympathetic and non-judgemental short-term support to anyone who needs it, regardless of faith background. We are happy to be contacted in any case of need, whether emotional, spiritual or practical. The Chaplaincy operates within the wider prison team and if we are not able to help, we can probably find someone who can.
Classes and groups
We are continually developing the range of opportunities we offer to explore faith, spirituality and personal development. All courses in the Chaplaincy are offered in the context that faith is important.
We recognise the validity of accepted moral codes and acknowledge the possibility that there is a higher power or ideal against which our actions can be judged.
We do not give up hope on anyone.
Currently on offer are a Meditation group open to all, Discovery Groups which explore the Christian faith by discussion and Qur'an classes. Each faith is supported by its own Chaplain and has appropriate teaching and worship sessions.
The Chaplaincy is also responsible for the SORI course which explores restorative justice, and the Living with Loss course which deals with all aspects of loss in people’s lives. These are open to those of any faith and those of none.