We should see engaging with people in and out of prison as a gift rather than a challenge

Author of ‘Jailbirds’ and social activist Mim Skinner will talk about her experiences of working in a women’s prison at this year’s Prison Lecture.

What will be the main themes of your talk at the Prison Lecture?

I will focus on how living in Christian community lead me to working in prison. The history of women, crime and the church and why that legacy is still here. Stories from women in prison and using art to help people explore themselves and why churches aren’t always easy places to come to after leaving prison.
Why did you feel compelled to write your book, particularly focusing on women within the prison system?

I was frustrated with the misconceptions people had about women in prison. Questions people ask me are most often which high profile prisoners I know and whether I’ve been scared. These aren’t the right questions to be asking!

How do you think we can better support women in the judicial system?

As a society we need to imprison fewer people and make it a popular campaign issue. As a church we need to make sure that we give responsibility to those who don’t fit into our mould. People are made to feel welcome if they see people like them participating at all levels.

What do you hope attendees will take home from the event?

That women in prison are a gift to the church and to society, they have mostly overcome huge challenges and we should see engaging with people in and out of prison as a gift rather than a challenge.

Mim is a writer and journalist who has spent the last 5 years working with women in and out of prison through chaplaincy and teaching. Her book, Jailbirds, published in June, and written with the women she works with, is a funny and sad portrayal of life in the criminal justice system. Since the book came out in June this year, the rights have been bought by BBC Studios and a drama series is in development. Her book and subsequent campaigning earned her a place on the Elle List 2019. She also co-founded a food waste redistribution organisation, REfUSE, in the North East, which intercepts over 1 tonne of food weekly from landfill to be served in their cafe/restaurant by those in training from employment, including women from prison.