Denise Renshaw

In 2006 I retired from full time work as a Physiotherapist and started to volunteer with a small charity that ran the visitor’s centre at a women’s prison nearby. Working with prisoner’s families had interested me for a while. In 2009 my Area Meeting asked me if I would put my name forward to be the Quaker Chaplain at the prison. There had been no one in post for some time. I hesitated as I had not been in Membership for long. However I recognised that knowing the prison and having worked with the residents on family liaison matters was an advantage.
My clearance went through and I started going in to help with various groups. As in most prisons it took time to become an accepted part of the chaplaincy team but I started going in helping with various groups. This built up to going in two days a week, doing what are called Statutory Duties and pastoral support for the residents, I have only ever had one person who registered as Quaker but have run Christian and secular meditation groups that can feel very like a gathered Meeting.
Many of us are able to carry over skills from our working lives in to chaplaincy and I have realised that working for 10 years as a physiotherapist in a Hospice had given me training and experience in dealing with loss which has been very valuable in my pastoral role. I am very grateful for the divine nudges that led me to prison chaplaincy, it has been very fulfilling.

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