Tuesday 4th March 2014
"Having someone to turn to who understands and who can help through the difficult time when a parent is away in prison can make all the difference to the families left behind."
Every year, around 200,000 children in England and Wales have a parent in prison. These children are twice as likely to experience mental health problems, and three times more likely to have a history of poor employment, poor accommodation and drug use in adulthood than their peers.
As Barnardo's Honorary Vice President, Cherie Blair visited the Community Support for Offenders Families (CSOF) to learn more about Barnardo's project supporting children affected by parental imprisonment.
The service, which is jointly funded by the National Offender Management Service and Barnardo's, aims to raise awareness of the vulnerability and considerable impact that parental imprisonment has on children. The project gives these children a voice; it pushes for changes to be made within the prison system, schools and communities. As a result, their childhoods, family relationships and prospects can be improved, whilst having a positive impact on inter-generational offending.
Cherie Blair met with project staff in Bristol on Tuesday to discuss their work before speaking to local families who have benefited from the service.
Cherie went on to visit Parc prison in South Wales where she met Director Janet Wallsgrove and Yvonne Rodgers (Director of Barnardo's Wales) to discuss project Invisible Walls Wales (IWW). IWW which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, supports imprisoned fathers, their partners and children at HMP Parc and the wider community. The project is delivered by Barnardo's staff, who work closely with G4S, inside the prison and aims to reduce re-offending and inter-generational offending by strengthening family ties.
Following her day of visits, Mrs Blair said: "Barnardo's work to support children affected by parental imprisonment is hugely important. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to see for myself how they are helping families to manage when a parent is away in prison.Visiting Barnardo's project in Bristol/HMP Parc today brought to life some of the important work they are doing to reduce the negative impact on those young people who have no control over the circumstances they find themselves in.
Having someone to turn to who understands and who can help through the difficult time when a parent is away in prison can make all the difference to the families left behind."
Posted by Norina Arif