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Non-religious pastoral carers return to frontline duty in prisons

Patient sitting on couch listening to his therapist

All non-religious pastoral carers will be able to return to frontline duty in prisons across England and Wales this week to continue to provide essential pastoral and emotional support to prisoners during the Covid-19 crisis. Volunteers in prisons had been stood down in the early stages of the outbreak to reduce footfall in institutions, but volunteer pastoral carers and chaplains will now be able to attend prisons again. This reflects the key nature of their work.

The Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network, founded by Humanists UK, has volunteer chaplains in almost 20 percent of prisons across England and Wales providing non-judgemental like-minded support to non-religious prisoners who may be struggling to find meaning and cope with their difficult life circumstances.

The need for such services has increased due to the current ongoing crisis, which has restricted prisoners’ contact with others, both through the ending of family visits and increasing restrictions on movement and interactions with other prisoners. While these restrictions are necessary to limit the potential spread of Covid-19 in prisons, it is essential that pastoral support and chaplaincy services step up to ensure that the care prisoners require is still in place, adapting provision in line with social distancing guidelines. Pastoral carers in vulnerable groups will continue to self-isolate and will not be returning to work in prisons.

Jessica Grace, Head of Humanist Care at Humanists UK commented, ‘I am delighted that our pastoral carers are returning to frontline duty providing necessary care for non-religious prisoners at a time of increased isolation and anxiety. During this period of quarantine, prisoners are cut off from other means of emotional and pastoral support. In returning to prisons, non-religious pastoral carers will be able to ensure continuity in care and comfort to those among our society whose wellbeing may be severely affected by this virus.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Press Manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone on 07393 344293.

Read more about the work of the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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