Caring for Ex-Offenders connects individuals leaving prison with local church communities in the area to which they are resettling.
Support Team roles
CFEO’s model is a team of 3-5 volunteers based within a church community who each hold various roles:
One to one support for the ex-offender is provided through the mentor. The mentor is the main contact for the ex-offender and is available to meet with them regularly. The mentor works alongside the ex-offender to set and achieve realistic goals. This is a crucial supportive relationship, that provides stability and accountability for the ex-offender.
This role involves meeting up with the ex-offender socially. This may be meeting before church, having a coffee, going to the cinema or attending church social events with them. The befriender is a 'safe' person in the congregation who knows the individual's background and can support the mentoring relationship.
This may include helping the ex-offender fill in forms or job applications, or supporting them as they access education or training. This is a great role for those with a passion for prison ministry who do not have the capacity to mentor and have expertise in areas such as counselling, budgeting advice, benefits or housing.
The prayer team ideally meet regularly to pray for the prison ministry of the church, for the ex-offenders within the community and the volunteer team that are supporting them. It should be confidential, so the team feel safe to make any prayer requests. This is a challenging ministry and it is so important to cover all that we do in prayer.
Integrating into a community after time spent in prison can be daunting. This dedicated commitment from a team of relative strangers can provide a new understanding of God’s love and also newly discovered self-belief, empowering those we support to live transformed lives.
The model at HTB requires all CFEO team members to attend a training and selection day and provide references.
CFEO does not provide employment or accommodation. We work closely with other organisations and signpost people to the appropriate help where necessary.
CFEO is a self-referral organisation. We ask that any individuals we work with express a desire to change, the first step of which is demonstrated by filling in our referral form themselves. The individual does not need to be a Christian to refer to CFEO, we are happy to support anyone who is willing to engage with a church community.
Ideally, the process of connecting someone from prison to a church should begin about 6 months before release. This allows time for communicating with the individual by post, a necessity in this ministry, obtaining risk assessments, finding the right support team and also getting in touch with relevant agencies that may be able to help practically. Crucially, this also allows time for the mentor to build a relationship with the individual either through letter writing or visits. This is an important part of the process so that the individual can be met at the gate on release by someone with whom they have a relationship and trust.
CFEO at HTB trains new team members throughout the year and holds termly support evenings for the team. HTB has a Safeguarding Officer and any connection to HTB is discussed with them after all risk assessments have been obtained.
Further details about the CFEO model, including a flow chart of the process and template forms can be found in our resources section here.