Prisons Minister Boateng gives thinks for Alpha's 'valuable contribution'
Home office Minister Paul Boateng, who is responsible for Prisons and
the Probation Services, has written of Alpha's 'valuable contribution'
to the spiritual life of prisons and has accepted an invitation to
speak at the next 'Caring for Ex-Offenders' day in November.
Mr. Boateng held a meeting in June with Nicky Gumbel (Alpha Chaplain),
Paul Cowley (head of the 'Alpha in Prisons' scheme) and the Chaplain
General to the Prison Services, the Venerable David Fleming at his
The meeting was set up at his request because of his interest in the
influence the course is having across the prison system in Britain.
More then 120 of the country's 158 prisons now run the Alpha course
- and demand for the course is high among prisoners.
Mr. Boateng also expressed interest in the work being done to
integrate ex-prisoners back into the community with the help of local
After the meeting, he wrote to Paul Cowley giving his support to the
ongoing work of Alpha within the Prison Service.
He said, "Alpha is making a valuable contribution to the spiritual
life of our prisons and has helped many make the change to a new life
free of crime and drugs.
"The role of church communities beyond the prison gates in support of
newly released prisoners and reaching within to touch lives through
Alpha is vital.
"My heartfelt thanks to all involved, and my prayerful best wishes
for the future of the work."
He accepted an invitation to speak at the Alpha 'Caring for
Ex-offenders' training day in London on November 9, when he is
expected to speak primarily about the importance of the churches'
involvement in the rehabilitation of prisoners and the reduction of
Paul Cowley said after the meeting with Mr. Boateng, "He was extremely
helpful, supportive and encouraging about the work we are doing.
"He expressed particular interest in the mobilisation of churches to
accept ex-offenders back into the community."
The Prison Minister is not the only senior figure in the service to
express interest in Alpha.
Sir David Ramsbotham, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, has also agreed
to speak at the 'Caring for Ex-Offenders' day.
Sir David, a former Army General who has held the post for four years,
is responsible to the Home Secretary for the inspection of prisons in
England and Wales and reporting on the treatment and conditions of
He has shown great interest in the work of Alpha and has met Paul
Cowley, who leads the prison work, on two separate occasions to
discuss the role of Alpha in prisons.
Paul Cowley said, "Sir David has shown great interest in all that we
do and he has encouraged us in many ways, particularly with the work
of caring for ex-offenders.
"He has become a friend and it is wonderful that he has now agreed to
speak at our 'Caring for Ex-Offenders' day in London in November."
Last year, Sir Peter Woodhead, the Prisons Ombudsman, spoke at a
'Caring for Ex-Offenders' day at Holy Trinity Brompton, London, and
said that he believed the Alpha course had made "a significant
contribution to the reduction of crime in society."
Sir Peter, who was NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in the Atlantic
before his appointment, added, "I have to say I had some doubts at the
outset about Whether Alpha was a suitable vehicle for prisoners.
"The course clearly wasn't designed to be used in prisons. It seemed
far too middle class. But I was wrong. I was completely and utterly
wrong. It has fitted into thePrison Service thrust for offending
behaviour courses aimed at making prisoners change their attitude and
Source : Alpha news newspaper
Author : Unknown