Our next chapter starts now!
We are delighted to announce that Kahaila-Reflex has received the Bronze Award in the Best Social Action Project category at the 2018 Christian Funders’ Forum Awards.
The awards showcase many powerful initiatives that are at work in communities across the UK and demonstrate how faith groups contribute at least £3 billion worth of social and welfare support to the UK every year, helping 48 million in the process.
It is such an honour to receive this award. At Kahaila we are passionate about having a positive social impact on our community and we have seen that working with young women in prison is a key way of doing this.
Kahaila-Reflex works with young women in prison and through-the-gate into the community. We provide support by building positive, supporting relationships with women in prison through mentoring, outreach, chaplaincy support and delivering accredited life skills 'myLife' courses.
In that past six years we have worked alongside over 450 women and we are grateful for each and every individual we have had the privilege of working with along the way.
We are incredibly proud of the amazing staff team who make the project happen and so grateful to every individual and funding body who champion and support our work.
As budget cuts continue to place added strain on local authorities, health services and police forces, churches and Christian charities are responding by providing innovative solutions to problems at the heart of our communities.
James Laing, Director of Grants and Relationships at Allchurches Trust, who sponsored the award said:
“The kind of support that Kahaila offers to women in prisons is vital to helping them realise their potential and giving them skills and knowledge to build a brighter future...It’s fantastic to see them continuing to develop innovative and impactful programmes that make positive change to people’s lives.”
Thank you to The Christian Funders’ Forum for your recognition of our project and supporting the women we work with to make a positive step towards their future!
The Kahaila Reflex Team
The Christian Funders’ Forum is a group of executives of grant making trusts and foundations. Members of the forum grant more than £30 million a year to Christian work. The Forum meets regularly to encourage the sharing of best practice and to work together wherever that is possible. Each year members of the Christian Funders’ Forum give over £30 million to Christian mission both in the UK and overseas. Some of the most innovative projects funded by the member organisations over the past year were recognised at the awards ceremony in London on 7 November.
Candle light dances and flirts on the wall, picking up the shimmer of a bauble, the glitter of the star that crowns the tree. The fire is crackling in the hearth and the speakers are singing out ‘joy and good will to all’ as you snuggle deeper in the hug of your arm chair or loved one.
A metal door slams, the light flickers with headache inducing regularity as a lady passes by the door with a smile of grim determination. The bed creaks and feels lumpier than ever as the TV blares, trying to cover the noise in her head and the ache of missing those people she loves - their pictures peeling off the wall where the tape has run its course and is finally giving up.
She stares at the door, holding her letter, fairy lights flashing: waiting. She was allowed to buy the bright pink, glitter lights this year – she doesn’t know why but granny said it was okay. She stares at the door. She can hear her brother screaming in the cot but no one’s going to him. She stands up to go to him, drops the letter. Father Christmas has let her down - mum’s not coming.
This year the will be more than 4000 women sitting in their prison cells on Christmas Eve 2017.
This year thousands of families will be missing a mum, a daughter, a friend, a partner, a wife.
It’s so easy for us to become wrapped up in ourselves and our families at Christmas. To become insular with our love and give only to those who are near and who love us. I think our challenge should be to change this. To love and care for all - no matter their history - because that is the only way that we can change the norm. That is the only way that actual, tangible, good progress will happen. That is when patterns shift, ruts become freedom and behaviours and attitudes alter.
So let’s speak and act out a new kind of love.
One that considers those who are finding this time of year an even deeper struggle than normal.
One that gives extravagantly to food banks, homeless shelters and trusted charities.
One that stops and talks and gives hot food or drinks to the shivering person on the corner or the pays for the coffee of the person behind in the queue.
One that remembers that for some people ‘family’ and ‘home’ have very negative connotations.
One with a whole new gratefulness to the people we do have and love, the tree we can afford and the food we will eat.
One that is prepared to open the door wider, to change the meaning of the word ‘home’ and to welcome those who feel unwanted or alone.
One that doesn’t get self-righteous or judgmental when we read in tabloids that prisoners might get an extra serving of stodgy pudding or a chocolate bar on Christmas Day.
One that considers the parentless children; the mother without her baby; the families who are motherless, sisterless, daughterless, lifeless this Christmas because of that gaping hole. The guardians, grandparents, dad’s, siblings and foster parents who have to explain once again why mum isn’t there ‘but she does still love you.’ The daughter sitting on the step: waiting for her life to become whole once again.
We never know who’s Christmas we might be making that tiny bit better, that slight bit more bearable, bringing a stronger, warmer light of love and a shift from ‘me and mine’ to ‘us and them.’
Kahaila-Reflex Community Support Worker
We asked Kahaila-Reflex team member, Kiani Yiu, to come up with some sketches as visual aids for this week of prayer. Each image represents the physical and emotional process of walking through a life affected by prison.
Kiani says, "Through these images, I hope to represent the daily effect of prison on individual and community life and also the coinciding presence of hope. Yes, each subject is walking on roman numerals, but they are always in forward motion toward light and freedom."
Prisons Week is a chance for the community to focus on prayer for those in prison and those affected by the criminal justice system. For some, the reality of a prison sentence seems quite removed; for others, the hardships of prison are an emotional and physical presence in daily life. In both cases, prayer is often the most helpful way to connect with those who are suffering and offer consistent support and encouragement.
On its website, Prisons Week has compiled seven prayers, one for each day of the week, along with stories from those who have experienced the emotional, financial, and physical trials that come with a life affected by prison.
Each day highlights a different side of the prison system and guides the community in prayer for each aspect. There is immense power in corporate prayer to bring about very real changes in the lives of prisoners, families, workers, and friends who live lives that have been negatively, and often innocently, influenced by crime. Our hope is to lift them up in prayer and facilitate a restoration of hope in spite of grim circumstances.
This year, Prisons Week will take place October 8-14. For those who pray, please join us in prayer for those who have been affected by crime, encouraging all to move beyond their past and press on toward a life of hope and freedom. We pray that our prayers do not stop with the close of the week, but continue to spread and foster hope as long as prison is exists.
For more information and a list of daily prayers, please visit the Prisons Week website.
The Prisons Week Prayer:
Lord, you offer freedom to all people.
We pray for those in the prison.
Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist.
Support with your love prisoners and their families and friends,
prison staff and all who care.
Heal those who have been wounded by the actions of others,
especially the victims of crime. Help us to forgive one another,
to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with Christ
in his strength and in his Spirit, now and every day.
“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:10-14)
When you think of what an offender could be, you might picture prisons, bars, uniforms or handcuffs. In some cases, you may associate prisons with a sense of disorder, outcasts and hopelessness. Generally our perception of offenders in the UK is a blurry one.
That’s where we came in.
We are Anna and Natalie, 2 designers that wanted to help shift this perception.
Kahaila-Reflex support, nourish and celebrate the positive attitude these women in prison aim towards. In fact, when we caught up with Jo Hobson about the all of the work that goes on, the opposite assumptions came to mind. We found out about unique, bold personalities of the women they meet, and our existing opinions quickly changed.
Our rebrand focused on a fingerprint to represent each women's unique identity.
Fingerprints can have connotations with police stations and breaking the law. We flipped this negative link into a positive, making the fingerprint an integral part of the charity’s brand, something to be celebrated and used as a positive mark. We met a great ex-offender who Kahaila-Reflex work with, and used her fingerprint to base the identity.
As well as creating the logo with the fingerprint, it's also used as a bold graphic device in Kahala-Reflex communications. We wanted to not only represent the charity, but represent the offenders too. Bright colours were chosen, clashing with pastel tones. This reflects the combination of strong personalities in a vulnerable situation.
We wrote a manifesto that summarises the progressive work that Kahaila-Reflex do with each individual. Using language that has a strong and empowering tone was important to us, inspired by the ‘This Girl Can’ - Sport England campaign.
Kahaila-Reflex can't do the work it does without a strong community supporting the charity. The brand is something that not only reflects their work, but is an inclusive, impactful identity for supporters or newcomers.
If you'd like to find out more about the brand, get in touch. Or if you'd like to donate money to the life-changing work that Kahaila-Reflex do, click here.
Anna Barton & Natalie Hopson
For the past three months, I have had the honor to intern at Kahaila-Reflex for a bit each week, and witness the incredible work being done to redefine offenders and support those who are in trying circumstances.
For Mother's Day, I was able to come to the prison with Kahaila-Reflex and see what a chaplaincy service looks like. However, this Sunday was different than any other Sunday. Before the service began, the chaplain explained how many of the women find today particularly difficult because of rough circumstances with their children, as well as their own mothers and family backgrounds. What for many was a happy day of celebration was a painful reminder to these women of the separation they were currently in from their children, or of painful circumstances with family in general.
As the women started to trickle in and took a seat in the chapel, the music began to play and Jo's voice seemed to combine the women's voices together into a lovely symphony. The light streamed through the stained glass windows, illuminating the morning glow and adding to the worshipful atmosphere. As a first time attendee to a prison chaplaincy service, I was incredibly struck by the power of these women's voices and with what fervor they sang the verses of the songs.
The chaplain then began to speak on the mothering qualities of God, and explained how He could relate and understand what many of these women were feeling. Though this was a hard time full of intense emotions, these women sang with their whole hearts at the end of the service; their evident appreciation of these worship songs and the hope hidden in them was encouraging and amazing to see.
As the women flowed out of the service into the sunshine that had burst through the clouds, they each received three daffodils- one to keep, and two to give away. There are few times where I have felt more impacted by complete strangers; yet, there is something to be said about people who have been hurt, labeled by society, who have experienced the most difficult of situations that life has to offer. Yet, they still sing. They still laughed. They still shared their flowers with those around them.
We are all someone's mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, or friend. We all have a story, a purpose, and a journey that is still unfolding. Having the opportunity to worship and sing the morning away with women currently in prison showed me just how alike we all are. We all crave community, we all want to belong, and we desire purpose. Kahaila-Reflex has seen this, and they choose to see women in prison- as well as those who have left prison- not as permanent offenders, but indeed, as offenders redefined.
Grace is a aspiring social worker and has been interning at Kahaila Women's Project for 3 months. Grace has loved seeing what they do and how they do it. Upon completion of her internship, Grace will be returning to Atlanta, United States to complete a Masters in Social Work.
Early on the morning of 18th March, I had the privilege of speaking to a brilliant group of women as part of a 'Women's Breakfast' series, put on by Steyning and District Churches Together.
It was a great time spent together, sharing a bit about the work we do with women whilst they are in prison and upon their release back into the community. I shared some facts and figures about our prison population; the number of people we have in prison, the economic cost of prison, and the social background and experiences of suffering many women in prison have been through.
I finished by sharing some reflections of three lessons I have learned through the work we do: