PACT’s Catholic Community Engagement Manager Theresa Alessandro shares how Operation Elf supports family relationships at Christmas.
Lord Farmer reported that nurturing the ‘golden thread’ of family relationships helps prisoners to make a fresh start – reducing ‘reoffending’ by 39%. Pact’s Operation Elf is one way to support those relationships at Christmas –an important time of year for families. This year, parishes like Our Lady and St Joseph, Kingsland, and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Devizes, made wonderful efforts to support mums and dads in prison, providing them with gift cards they can give to their children for Christmas. Groups like the African Chaplaincy in Leicestershire were moved to help too. School Chaplain Marie Norbury encouraged creative thinking in three schools in Southwark diocese. Funds were raised for Operation Elf by holding a chocolate raffle and pupils produced prayerful artwork to send to local prisoners for Christmas. The Faith in Action team at Pact were inspired by the generous and widespread support for Operation Elf. Catholic communities are clearly concerned about families separated by imprisonment and want to spread love and hope. One supporter sent this simple message to prisoners and their families: ‘People care.‘
On behalf of those mums and dads in prison who have been able to give their child a gift through Operation Elf at the end of this difficult year, Pact would like to say thank you to all those who have put their faith into action in this way.