Everybody Deserves a Second Chance
Prisoners Week was from 16–23 November 2014. This initiative is run mainly by the Churches aimed to stimulate discussion, highlight concerns and share hope, in prisons and communities across the UK.
The theme for this year was ‘Behind the Mask’ and offered an opportunity to see others — and perhaps also ourselves — differently. Setting aside labels, categories, fronts and masks, there’s a chance to see people as people. Perhaps such things are a part of the journey towards safer communities and more fulfilled lives.
As part of prisons week I was asked by the Salvation Army in Bedworth whether I would present on the Crossroads story and my very own personal journey of salvation and convey the message people who are sentenced to prison are often good people who made bad decisions usually when their personal lives were in crisis and mental well bell being compromised.
What I did not expect was to find out about an amazing member of the congregation who as a victim of crime was promoting “Everybody deserves a second chance”. Mavis Tallett worships at Bedworth Outreach Centre and this is her story:
In 2009, two men broke into Mavis home in the middle of the night. The 89 year old awoke to find the intruders lurking in her bedroom and threatening to kill her dog if she didn’t hand over her money. Mavis is partly sighted and this experience left her a prisoner in her own home.
“I was so frightened I wouldn’t open the door to anybody” she recalls. Eventually Deaconess Pamela Hamilton from All Saints Parish Church, Bedworth, approached Mavis and said: “You’ve been invited to prison. It will do you good to talk to the boys. And it will do the boys good to hear your story”
Reluctantly Mavis went to HMP Onley. “I was apprehensive, but when the prisoners came into the room, my heart melted”, Mavis explains. “I felt so sorry for them. I told them my story about how upset and nervous the burglary made me, and after a while they talked to me and told me their sorrows.”
This visit was a turning point in Mavis recovery. She explains: “When I got home from prison there was a knock on my door. I got up straight away and answered it. Before, I wouldn’t open the door to anybody. The burden was off my shoulders. I said: “Thank God”. Going to the prison has helped me to survive.
“I have forgiven my attackers, but I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget how upset it made me. I couldn’t trust anybody for weeks and weeks, but when I went to prison and talked to those boys, it changed everything. “Mavis now 95, regularly visits the prison as part of a six-week rehabilitation course.
“At the prison I tell them my entire story and they get very upset about it when I tell them how it made me. Then they come over and talk to me and tell me their stories, about what they have done. Some of them are very sorry.
“The way they speak to you is so sad sometimes. Some of them don’t really want to do bad things; they just get a bit mixed up in the wrong crowd.”
Mavis recently received a commendation from Warwickshire Police Force for her work. She concludes: “We are all human and can slip off the straight line and narrow path. I say, give everyone a second chance and forgive. That’s my motto anyway.”
Crossroads Trust facilitates a peer mentoring service for individuals with criminal records. Our mission is to give all that access our service a second chance where the past is the past and together in partnership we can work together to help build a positive future