Changing Lives Together: COACH Mentoring & Prison Fellowship

This month we’d like to share with you the impact that Prison Fellowship is making it the lives of children whose parents are incarcerated. 

Megan Stock, Extraordinary Lives Coordinator at Prison Fellowship shares how along side the annual camp – which provides a wonderful injection of hope to the children who attend, they began to wonder if there was more they could do. 

This is where their partnership with COACH Network began.

At Prison Fellowship, we have always been passionate about changing the trajectory for children who have a parent incarcerated. We are aware that these children encounter significant challenges, including a haunting statistic: they are six times more likely to end up in the prison system themselves.

Traditionally, our response has included residential camps where these children can learn about themselves, discover who God is, and understand how God made them. These camps, held once a year, have provided a wonderful injection of hope, but we began to wonder if there was more we could do.

We started exploring various mentoring models across Australia, searching for tools that were not only effective but also aligned with our Christian values. This exploration led us to develop day camps where families and young people could come to know us and build relationships. Initially, these camps were centralised, but we soon realised the potential of decentralising and focusing on local initiatives.

Amidst this transition, an exciting possibility emerged: What if COACH Mentoring could be a means to reach more young families and young people?

Imagining New Possibilities:

  • Networking COACH communities: What if we didn’t just become a COACH partner, but also networked existing COACH communities?
  • Church-based teams: What if we developed teams within churches that are already on a COACH journey, connecting them with young people and their families in their neighbourhoods?
  • Empowering local churches: What if we invested in local churches to create pathways for congregation members to meet and support the ‘widows and orphans’ in their communities?
  • Community integration: What if we helped integrate the ‘widows and orphans’ into local communities by offering prayer, support, and hope in their daily lives?

Turning Vision into Reality:

Over the last 12 months, our vision has started to take shape. In Victoria, two churches with an existing COACH Mentoring program began running day camps. Currently, we have five mentors with four more in training, and we aim to have an additional ten mentors by the end of the year. In New South Wales, we have day camps scheduled for July, thanks to a partnership with a COACH partner and a local church. South Australia is also on board with day camps planned for July. We’re in discussions with three COACH partners in Queensland about joining this initiative. Remarkably, this year alone, we have engaged 29 new volunteers in our day camps, many of whom are considering becoming mentors.

This partnership with COACH is enabling Prison Fellowship to take bold steps towards a brighter, more hopeful future for children of incarcerated parents. Together, we are empowering these children to build strong foundations and supportive communities, transforming lives, and changing destinies.