‘Building Bridges’ event was organised by Prison Sikh Chaplain Gagandeep Singh in Partnership with Community Chaplaincy of HMP Wormwood Scrubs recently.
The event was hosted by Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha), Shepherds Bush. The event started with reflection of quote from Sri Guru Granth Sahib. In attendance was local Sikh Sangat, President S Rajinder Singh Bhasin, Lord Indarjit Singh CBE NOMS Sikh Faith Advisor and members of Sikh Chaplaincy Service. Governor Hitesh Dodhia represented the senior management of the Prison, Imam Kabir represented the Community Chaplaincy, Rev. Patrick Cope and Ibrahim Mehtar represented NOMS Chaplaincy HQ.
The main speaker, Gagandeep Singh, who spoke about the types of crimes committed by Sikh prisoners, community attitude towards the Sikh prisoners and their needs for accommodation, employment, training and need for family and community support. He stressed that Sikh community needs to be proactive in working with the Prison Service to reduce the reoffending rate amongst Sikh prisoners. He stated that one of the ways of supporting offenders is for volunteers to become mentors and befrienders. Imam Kabir who is community Chaplain explained about Mentoring Scheme. He stated that Wormwood Scrubs has Christian and Muslims mentors however none from Sikh community.
Governor Hitesh Dodhia thanked the gurdwara for hosting the event and continuous support the gurdwara has been providing, by attending the Sikh Festivals in Wormwood Scrubs. He gave presentation on the high reoffending rate and the importance of faith communities to be involved in supporting offenders and ex-offenders.
Lord Singh spoke about Guru’s teachings, about the transformation, of people like ‘. ‘Sajjan Thag’. He explained how the Prison Chaplaincy Service and Sikh Chaplaincy Service have moved forward over the years.
Mentors Dina shared her experience of mentoring and answered questions from the audience.