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.