The first series of talks on Mondays at the Monastery took place at the Presentation Brothers, Mardyke. Under the auspices of the Presentation Brothers Youth Ministry (PBYM), Silvia Maria Crowley welcomed Fiona and Laura from St Nicholas Trust, set up in 2008 in response to the needs of relatives of people sent to prison. It was a very engaging and informative presentation, told with great sensitivity and emotion. Fiona and Laura left us in no doubt as to the trauma visited on families concerned.
The Trust offers help and support to people affected by imprisonment – in particular the families of prisoners. Families affected meet on a regular basis where they can talk in a safe, confidential, non-judgmental environment to others who have been through the same experience. They invite speakers to talk to the group on matters related to imprisonment and its effect on the family. If it is a first time going to the prison for a visit, a member of the group can accompany you and explain the procedure to you. They have produced a booklet containing all the necessary information called “Visiting Cork Prison” and copies are readily available.
The consequences of a crime can be far-reaching, and crime touches the lives of many. Among these are the families of the offenders. These family members – partners, spouses, parents, grandparents, children, brothers, sisters – have done nothing wrong and yet they also experience feelings of despair, loss, isolation, shame, anger and the stigma of being associated with the crime.
A volunteer says, “After losing my job I volunteered with The Saint Nicholas Trust. I wanted to do something different with my free time. I became a helper in the Cork prisoners’ visitor centre for two hours one morning a week. I was understandably a little bit nervous at first. For the first few occasions, I had the support of an experienced volunteer and that was a great help. I served tea and coffee to visitors and minerals to the children. After a while I was very comfortable meeting visitors and explaining the procedure when visiting the prison. I also explained the other supports that are offered by the Trust.
St Nicholas Trust welcomes volunteers for the Prison visiting centre. Volunteers offer refreshments, a welcome and a listening ear. They make information available to newcomers on how the visiting system works. The times the visitors centre opens are between 10-12 and 2-4, during the week.
Three further talks take place at the Mardyke Centre. John Lonergan, former governor of Mountjoy Prison will share his experience with us on Monday 22, Catriona Towmey, from Penny Dinners will talk about her work for Charity on the 29 and Fionnbar Walsh, father of Donal Walsh from the Donal Walsh Life Foundation will talk about the Foundation on March 7. These talks highlight ‘Mercy’, this being the Year of Mercy and challenges us how we can be more merciful in our everyday lives. They take place from 7.00-8.30pm. They are free; all are welcome.
For further information contact the Youth Ministry Office Coordinator, Silvia-Maria (0858588338)