Get involved Operation Elf Every year more than 200,000 children experience the distress and heartache of losing someone they love because of imprisonment. Through no fault of their own, these children will often deal with shame, embarrassment, stigma and loneliness - and may live in households with parents or carers who themselves are struggling to cope. In any given year, Christmas can be a particularly painful time for children with a parent in prison. In previous years, Pact has collected thousands of toys and games from churches, businesses and individuals for prisoners to be able to give as Christmas gifts to their children at special Family Day visits in December. But it will come as no surprise that 2020 was different. We couldn't run Operation Elf 2020 in the same way as we had done before. Instead, we considered what would be possible and, rather than toys, we asked people to buy a book token to the value of £10 that could be sent in a Christmas card to a prisoner's child. We asked some mothers in prison who received a token what the book token meant to them and their children: I am very grateful. My son loves reading, he is going to buy the brand new 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' book which is out in January. I felt it was a great opportunity to be offered this gesture, as it will benefit my children greatly and assists us in maintaining family ties. Keep up the hard work as it is appreciated by myself and my children. We are very grateful to everyone who helped promote Operation Elf in 2020 and were delighted that people from all across the country were able to support the book token project. We are also honoured to partner with Westminster Diocese via Caritas Westminster in support of Operation Elf: Since 2017 I’ve enjoyed co-ordinating the Westminster side of Operation Christmas Elf, and I’m always inspired by the outpouring of generosity, concern and enthusiasm it produces. It’s a lovely, simple way for communities or individuals to put their love into action, and help prisoners’ children know they are loved and remembered. - Sister Silvana Dallanegra rscj, Caritas Westminster Providing a simple gift for a prisoner to give to their child strengthens the bonds within families and makes the future brighter for us all. None of us can change the past, but we can help love make a difference. If you can, please help us - and thank you. - Archbishop John Wilson, Southwark Diocese and Pact Vice President We don’t know how Operation Elf will run for 2021; however, we are certainly planning to give as many children as possible a gift this Christmas, whether it’s a toy or a gift token. To stay informed about Operation Elf please drop us an email to [email protected] and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as we have more news. Find out more Read Sister Silvana Dallanegra's blog about Operation Elf, from the perspective of Caritas Westminster. Sign up to Fresh Start, our quarterly supporter newsletter, to find out more about Pact's work to support prisoners and their families throughout the year. Read about the launch of Operation Elf in 2020.