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Revd Helen Dearnley/Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service
Revd Helen Dearnley/Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service
UK News

Bishop for Prisons and Deputy Chaplain General commissioned by Archbishop of Canterbury

The Bishop for Prisons and Deputy Chaplain General have been formally commissioned over Zoom by Justin Welby during a service of evening prayer conducted from Lambeth Palace.

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, has been commissioned as Bishop for Prisons along with Revd Helen Dearnley who's now formally licensed as Deputy Chaplain General of Prisons. 

Revd Helen, who is Anglican Chaplaincy Adviser for HM Prison and Probation Service, spoke to Premier about the position: 

"My role is one of support on representing Bishop Rachel in her role, but I work full time for the prison service. And my job is to make sure that every prison has Anglican chaplains who are well resourced and well supported, and that all those who are in prison can effectively practice their faith and through practicing their faith and be released into society and live law abiding and well rounded, meaningful lives."

As for her future ambitions in the role, Revd Helen said she was hoping to build on the good work that's already underway:

"We live and we work as prison chaplains across hugely diverse prisons and across the whole country. And one of the first things I want to do is continue to build on that community of chaplains and that collegiality. I'm hoping to continue to recruit really good high quality chaplains to the service to retain those who are working with us by investing in them and making sure they know how valued and precious they are. 

"And by helping equip people when they want to leave the service, to go back to minister in parish or wherever God is calling them to next. And I want to create a link amongst all prison chaplains that reflects that we are each called to the ministry, that we are compassionate in that ministry and that we are courageous in how we deliver our faith."

Revd Helen added that during the pandemic she has heard stories of people coming back to their faith or even discovering faith for the first time:

"I think you know, this year as well as every year, there are stories of real hope that we're here within our presence. And in many ways this year has been no different. There is real hope. And there is real optimism, that through faith that through the structures that the prison service provides that lives can be changed, and New Beginnings can be forged. And that's really exciting for all of us."

Prayers for Bishop Rachel and Revd Helen were read by the Archbishops of Canterbury, York and Wales during the service. 

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