Children of prisoners - maintaining family ties
Findings - the practice sites
Banbury and the Thames Valley Partnership
The Thames Valley Partnership (TVP) brings people and organisations together to create safe and stronger communities and sustainable solutions to the problems of crime and social exclusion. The Banbury ‘family matters’ group was established as a result of the multi-agency awareness training delivered by TVP and provides an example of a model to support children of prisoners.
String of Pearls and Devon and Cornwall Reducing Re-offending Action Plan children and family pathway group
String of Pearls is a small charity that was able to secure funding to undertake multi-agency training about the children of prisoners and help local services to get this issue on the children and family pathway group. The latter is in the process of considering how they might respond.
Although they do not have any practice or procedures in place as such, Halton Borough indicated in their response to the questionnaire that this is an area in which they are keen to progress. They are looking at ways to identify and monitor for children of prisoners who require support (not necessarily from statutory services) and welcome the opportunity for more in-depth discussion.
In Northern Ireland, provision for children and families of prisoners is extremely well established across the province. It is underpinned by solid working relationships between the prison service, probation and the voluntary sector, and an acknowledgement of the importance of the family in reducing the risk of re-offending and facilitating resettlement.
Norwich and Ormiston Trust
Ormiston works across prisons in the Eastern region with families affected by imprisonment. They provide family support services at eight of the region's prisons, enabling children and young people to maintain meaningful contact with their imprisoned parent or relative. This is achieved through the provision of child-friendly visits, parenting courses and information and support. This work is currently being extended to include support to families in the community, and they work across service boundaries to raise awareness with other organisations that come into contact with the children of prisoners. We were able to use their contacts to bring together professionals from organisations across the region to participate in the focus group.
Partners of Prisoners and Families Support group
Partners of Prisoners and Families Support Group (POPS) work across the prisons in the Northwest region. They provide a variety of services to support anyone who has a link with someone in prison, prisoners themselves and other agencies. The aim is to ‘support families to cope with the stress of arrest, imprisonment and release.’ POPS was established in 1998 and it now has several family link workers in prisons across the northwest.
Work in Scotland has long been recognised as good practice in maintaining family ties. The focus group participants were a mixture of prison managers and family contact and development officers (FCDOs), as well as representatives from Families Outside, the voluntary sector agency that provides support for families across Scotland and runs the national helpline. Any prisoner in Scotland can receive support from a family contact development officer who can provide a valuable link to the family and help plan for release.
Telford and West Midlands
Telford is in the advantageous position of having the Families Do Matter programme in the area. This project is sponsored by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and aims to provide evidence of the longer-term impact and benefit of supporting offenders to maintain and strengthen their relationships with their children and families. The focus group brought a range of people together for the first time and was an opportunity to discuss issues in detail, with a view to establishing a multi-agency response.