PACT: Operation Elf offers hope for parents in prison

Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for prisoners and their families. Over the past few years, the pain of separation felt by both parents in prison and their children has been worsened by restrictions on visits due to the pandemic. Pact’s Operation Elf aims to offer a light in these dark times.


Minimising the harm of imprisonment

Operation Elf 2022

Pact – the Prison Advice and Care Trust - is the national Catholic charity providing support to prisoners' and their families. The charity work in prisons, prison visitors’ centres, courts, and communities across England and Wales to minimise the harm caused by imprisonment. This includes support for many of the 300,000 children who have a parent in prison.

You may have heard on Prisoners’ Sunday that while memories of Covid restrictions may be fading for those of us ‘on the outside’, prison regimes ‘inside’ remain locked down. This means that mums and dads in prison are in many cases more isolated from their children and family members than before. Christmas can be a special time for families, but consider what it is like for those who are separated by imprisonment.

Nurturing family relationships is a big part of what PACT seeks to achieve. At this time of year, the charity is thrilled to offer parish communities an opportunity to support mums and dads in prison at Christmas through Operation Elf.

Operation Elf enables mums and dads in prison to give their children a Christmas gift. One mum supported by the initiative last year explained that she had been unable to give her son anything since entering prison three years ago. She was very emotional as she said, ‘It makes me feel like a mum again’. With your support, we can help more parents to feel like this.


How can you help?

  • When you are shopping for Christmas, please buy an extra £15 gift card.
  • Send it to us at PACT before November 30th.
  • PACT will all the donated gift cards and distribute them to the Family Services teams in prisons across England and Wales.
  • The gift cards will be shared at special Christmas visit days organised by PACT staff and volunteers. On these days, mum or dad can give their child a gift card and enjoy talking about what they might spend it on.

In an exciting development, this year PACT have partnered some parishes and groups with PACT staff in their local prison. By working together, you can see the impact Operation Elf has on families in your local area.  The charity are looking forward to hearing from those involved!

Find out more on our website Operation Elf: Pact's annual appeal helping mums and dads in prison to give a Christmas gift to their child | Prison Advice and Care Trust

Contact Theresa and Marie for an Operation Elf parish pack 

You can send your £15 gift cards to

Operation Elf
29 Peckham Road
London SE5 8UA

IMPORTANT: Please make sure that your card(s) arrive with before 30th November 2022 to allow the PACT Christmas Elves to deliver them in time for the special Christmas Family Visit Days.  Thank you.