Minister praised for raising prisoners' spirits as Barlinnie radio DJ

·3-min read
Minister praised for raising prisoners' spirits as Barlinnie radio DJ
Minister praised for raising prisoners' spirits as Barlinnie radio DJ

A MINISTER has been awarded for taking on the role of a prison radio DJ and brightening prisoners' spirits during lockdown.

Reverend Jill Clancy, also known as DJ Jolly Jilly, took over HMP Barlinnie's Barbed Wireless station back in 2020 while listeners had to remain in their cells to avoid spreading or catching covid.

She recorded, edited and broadcast an hour-long programme of music and quizzes twice a week, as well as Sunday worship services, Catholic Mass and Muslim prayers.

Mrs Clancy, who has worked at HMP Barlinnie for five years, said: "Being recognised for my contribution was a big surprise, I was gobsmacked to be honest and couldn't quite believe it.

"It was a difficult, uncertain and unknown time for all the prisoners, management and staff at HMP Barlinnie and I did all that I could to help keep people's spirits up."

Mrs Clancy is a huge fan of Johnny Cash, who famously performed in prisons and released Folsom Prison Blues after performing in the eponymous Californian prison.

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She added: "The prison has a radio station called Barbed Wireless run by the prisoners but it was off-air during the first lockdown because none of them were allowed out of their cells.

"So I styled myself DJ Jolly Jilly and twice a week I recorded, edited and broadcast an hour-long radio programme.

"It was so much fun and I am thrilled that being a presence in the prison helped just a little for all of us to get through a difficult time."

Glasgow Times: Mrs Clancy being presented with her award by Teresa Medhurst
Glasgow Times: Mrs Clancy being presented with her award by Teresa Medhurst

Mrs Clancy being presented with her award by Teresa Medhurst

She was presented with a Meritorious Award by Teresa Medhurst, chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, in recognition of her positivity and the care she provided to prisoners and staff.

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Mrs Clancy added: "It is a privilege to work at HMP Barlinnie but I could not do the job that I do without the support of the rest of the staff and management who showed great commitment and courage during the lockdown.

"None of us would have survived without the great Glasgow banter which gave us a laugh and the positivity that we needed.

"I might have been presented with this award but it was a team effort to keep things going during a huge period of uncertainty."

Church of Scotland chaplains work in prisons across Scotland supporting people affected by the criminal justice system.

Mrs Clancy said the pastoral care role is vital because people who have committed crimes need to know that their lives are important.

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She said: "All the prisoners whom I work with are men and they are somebody's son, father, uncle, brother and they matter.

"It is not about shutting people behind a locked door and forgetting about them, they need to know that God loves them as much as anyone else.

"It is such a privilege to be able to listen to people's stories and hopefully help them on the next step of their life journey as they leave prison.

"People need to know that they are loved and forgiven and if that gives them the strength to change and never to return to prison, we have done a good job."

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