May 062014

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance about working in prisons. He said he thought it might be a good thing that there was something else for ‘crims’ to do inside, apart from ‘just shanking and bumming each other’. It struck me as an ineptly light-hearted comment, born more of privilege and ignorance than of malice, and I did my best to look past it, and talked vaguely about how I think there is human potential in dark places. At the time, I had neither the energy nor the clarity to confront him more vigorously, weary as it made me. “It is a dreadful indictment of our society and Read full post >>

Jan 262013

A couple of weeks back I wrote about the prison closures that had been announced, and my concerns about their impact on prisoners. My visits to the affected prisons earlier this week suggested these concerns were well-founded. I’ve written a post on the work blog about it, which you can view by clicking here.

Jan 102013

At the office today we received the news that two of the prisons where we work are going to close. We heard through the BBC, having had no previous warning. I have my views on the closures, which I posted to my Facebook profile earlier but have since removed, since on reflection I think it’s better to keep them to myself. I don’t speak for the charity. A friend has, however, posted the text of a letter he wrote to his MP after reading my original post. His letter reminded me that while governments are elected, entitled and expected to take difficult decisions such as these all the time, they Read full post >>

Dec 042012

I’ve just come back from a meeting of the charity trustees I work with, trying to set up a community chaplaincy project in South London. This has been an interesting venture for me. I was invited to get involved, and initially did so because I thought it might mean some CV points. I bring my own point of view to the objectives but I buy into them enough that I was prepared to give it a shot. The work has not always been easy, and I’ve had moments of thinking I might quit. But today we had a big fillip – some news that we had secured most of the remaining Read full post >>

Jan 142012

Long-time readers will know that I am a cinema fan, and particularly of the German director Werner Herzog. I recently went to see his new film, Into the Abyss, in a special preview screening arranged by DocHouse, which screens a weekly documentary film in various cinemas around London. I offered to write a review of the film for publication elsewhere, and this is the result. Into the Abyss had a limited release in the US in November 2011. It will be released in the UK in late March or early April 2012, and will be followed by four shorter films that Herzog made about other inmates on the Texas Death Read full post >>