A vision for prisoners in the South West

The history of South West Community Chaplaincy goes back to 2005 when a variety of organisations came together to explore the possibility of forming a community chaplaincy service for Cornwall, Devon and West Somerset, to support prisoners making the move back into the community.

These organisations included the Council for Church and Society, YMCA England, the Islamic Centre for the South West, Prison Fellowship and Exeter Prison Chaplaincy. Everyone involved committed to providing support for some of the 1,800 people a year who are released from prisons in the South West.

We officially became a charity in March 2009 – at that time we were called Peninsula Initiative. Our charitable status enabled us to access funds to increase the scale of our work. We quickly secured a major three-year grant to extend our work supporting young offenders.

Since then, we’ve gone on to secure many more grants, large and small, enabling us to gradually increase our staff and volunteer team. Today our small permanent staff team coordinates the efforts of around 45 volunteers. They, in turn, support some 150 men and women each year as they leave prison and shape a brighter future for themselves.

Key to our work is the building of strong, supportive relationships at all levels, as captured in the following quote from our Probation partners:

"I consider the South West Community Chaplaincy (SWCC) Mentoring Scheme to be one of the single biggest success stores during my time as Head of Devon and Torbay Local Delivery Unit for the National Probation Service (NPS).  The volunteer mentors have made, and continue to make a huge contribution in supporting the individuals who Probation work with to lead safe, productive, offence-free lives.  Relationships are everything in Probation work, and the impact that volunteer mentors can have on people's lives through their kindness, support guidance and challenge is immense.  As the SWCC and the NPS develop their own working relationship, then the effectiveness of this work will only go from strength to strength". David Moffitt, National Probation Service