Belfast Telegraph

Hydebank prisoners send their children special Christmas gift

Tom Ferguson, Deputy Governor, Hydebank Wood College, Joanne Reid, Prison Fellowship Worker based at Hydeban Wood College, and Robin Scott, CEO Prison Fellowship
Tom Ferguson, Deputy Governor, Hydebank Wood College, Joanne Reid, Prison Fellowship Worker based at Hydeban Wood College, and Robin Scott, CEO Prison Fellowship

Prisoners in Northern Ireland have been given the chance to send their children a special Christmas gift this year.

Fathers at Hydebank Wood College, which houses inmates aged between 18 and 21, have made personal recordings of bible story readings, to go along with illustrated storybooks for their children.

The recordings will form part of Christmas toy parcels for the families of serving prisoners.

The gift initiative is organised by Christian ministry group the Prison Fellowship and will see 539 toy parcels and 435 food hampers delivered to prisoners' families across Northern Ireland.

Ronnie Armour, director general of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, paid tribute to the work of the Prison Fellowship.

"We greatly appreciate the work they do to support people in our care and their families and this work at Hydebank is another example of the difference they are making,” he said.

Tom Ferguson, deputy governor of Hydebank Wood College, said: “Christmas is a special time of year for families and with the help of Prison Fellowship we are able to support those in our care who are not able to share that time together.

Tom Ferguson, deputy governor, Hydebank Wood College, and Joanne Reid, Prison Fellowship worker
Tom Ferguson, deputy governor, Hydebank Wood College, and Joanne Reid, Prison Fellowship worker

“The Northern Ireland Prison Service recognises the importance of positive family connections and actively supports family contact where possible and appropriate.

"By focusing on children, who are often significantly affected by parental imprisonment, and encouraging them to move away from re-offending, we know positive changes can ultimately lead to better lives.”

Joanne Reid of the Prison Fellowship said the recordings are a "very special present" for children to receive on Christmas day.

“Our ‘Christmas Hope’ project is very important as it strengthens family links and maintains connections with children as well as helping to build confidence among dads," she said.

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