Every day men, women and youth are released from correctional facilities with nothing…without clothes, money, food, a place to live, a job to go to, sometimes without identification and often without anyone who cares. Sadly, many leave the security of prisons without the most powerful gift that we all possess and are able to give to one another, HOPE.
It is not uncommon for an HIV positive, drug addicted, mentally ill prisoner to be released into the community with no place to go, no prospects for a future due to lack of community support. They are even unable to access their critical medication, due to a lack of proper identification.
While this may in fact not be the norm, it is far too common an occurrence and is a situation that continues to put us all at risk, making victims of us all.
Far too often community agencies, family, friends and the church are required to “BRIDGE the gap” between the social services available and the chasms of despair. While we all feel called to help, the responsibility for repairing broken lives can be overwhelming. It can challenge all of our resources and our good intentions, especially when confronted with the hardened and frightened face of someone just released from prison.
Knowing how difficult the re-integration of offenders can be, we have created a template for the process based on many years of hands-on experiences. If this is an issue that you feel is worthy of your time and effort, please contact us for a copy of our brochure – “Welcoming the Stranger” This booklet will hopefully not only address the need for this important service, but will also address the why, the where and the how to. These are crucial issues around the ministry of re-integrating the offender back into the community safely or, in other words how to truly “Welcome the Stranger/Prisoner”.
The BRIDGE has so believed in the need to welcome ex-offenders back into the community both safely and wisely, we opened The Bridge Community Centre / Prisoner Art Gallery. All are welcomed and we hope you will visit us one day.
Our efforts at creating a compassionate community also involve being actively engaged through organizing or participating in a number of community events. (see: Community Engagement)