A group of happy, smiling women standing next to each other outside

Reverend Kate’s support for female prison residents

Published on : 3/7/22
  • The Reverend Kate Hartley, a Church of England Chaplain at HMP Bronzefield shares her thoughts on supporting International Women’s Day. As the Church of England Chaplain, she focusses on faith duties, such as services, study groups, candle lightings, she also visits everyone in Separation and Care and Healthcare every day.

    As Chaplain, she gives pastoral care in a range of circumstances including pregnancy/child loss, historic abuse; trauma of all kinds; serious illness; and bereavement. Her role includes telling residents when their loved ones have passed away and she process all aspects of their applications to attend/organise funerals when appropriate. Sometimes she attends funerals with the resident for support. 

    She also leads services and study groups and organises baptisms and confirmations, enabling people to fully practice their faith in custody. Reverand Kate Hartley

    Kate has also been a birthing partner twice, organised and facilitated Domestic Abuse and Restorative Justice programmes, and supported Family Liaison Officers when they inform relatives that a resident has died in custody. 

    Reflecting on her career Kate says: “I joined Bronzefield nine years ago on what I thought was going to be a once-a-week term long placement as part of my lay ministerial training and I was offered a sessional job on the first day.” 

    Thinking about International Women’s Day (IWD) and what it means to her Kate says:  

    “For me IWD is about two things. Firstly, it’s about acknowledging that, globally, women as a sex class are still often oppressed, marginalised, and disadvantaged because they’re female. In many countries women and girls do not have the same fundamental rights as men and there is still a long way to go. 

    Violence against women is an international issue and rape convictions are at an all-time low. IWD is about acknowledging the truth of the global situation for women so that we can work together to find ways to tackle and address the issues that they face. It’s also about men, because we need them to be allies in the fight against the normalisation of male violence.  

    Secondly, IWD is about championing women.

     It’s about celebrating and being inspired by the accomplishments of women and girls. It’s about representation, so that women and girls can see what they can aspire to and achieve. It’s about sisterhood and about women raising each other up. It’s also about men understanding the issues that women face and working together for true equality on all fronts.” 

    Kate never leaves work without feeling like she’s helped someone, even in a small way. “Often this is just about having been kind and about having given someone the gift of some time and space. It’s about listening and caring in a trauma-informed way. Although I do this within the context of faith, it’s a basic human need and when people are distressed, grieving or scared a little care and concern can have a huge impact. 

    “My faith is central to my life and underpins who I am and what I do. My prayer is that I will always follow God’s leading to find those who need my help, care and support. In addition to this I am inspired by the belief that we can change things; systems, experiences, policies, institutions etc. and that we should constantly seek to improve and strive for excellence for the benefit of those we serve. I love to see it when we get things right and change happens!” 

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