Sally, mother of Matthew, 11 months, Belle, 8 years & Emma 6 years
Carol, mum of Eve, 2 months Annie, age 8 years
Susan, mum of Joseph age 1 month, Melanie, age 13 and Dawn, age 15
Sally, mum of Declan, age 1 year, Emma, age 5 years and Becki, age 7 years
“The impact of parental imprisonment varies for each child and for the most it is profound. Parental imprisonment may often affect the child as bereavement does, yet it is accompanied by stigma, shame, anger and confusion” S. Rider (2011) The Family Day Tool Kit Kids VIP
Family visiting – an innovative approach Last year we received funding from The ELIZABETH JARMAN® Foundation to develop an innovative family visiting project. Photograph of families here Photograph of families here Photograph of families here
develop understanding of the link between the physical and emotional environment and its impact on children’s learning, development and well-being. Using The Elizabeth Jarman ‘Communication Friendly Spaces™ Approach’, the project aimed to explore and help to: reduce the stress of transition experienced by children visiting their mother in prison. Improve the children’s chance of coming to terms with the loss of their parent to imprisonment. increase the chance of developing the children’s emotional and social development.
Photograph of families here
Families appeared relaxed and happy, sharing stories and news. There was much laughter and affection. Photograph of families here
Melanie, age 13 years “remember when we were little and we used to make dens together” “We used to put your duvet on the sides of the bunk bed” Photograph of families here Photograph of families here
Daisy, age 5 years and Lara, 5 days old Photograph of families here Photograph of families here
Staff experience feelings of being positively superfluous, suggesting that careful planning and co-ordination enables the mothers to manage the event in a relaxed, practical and inspiring way. Photograph of families here Photograph of families here
We provide memorable and meaningful contact between Mums and their babies as well as with fathers, siblings and other significant family members. Photograph of families here
Mothers, carers and staff’s understanding of the role of the environment in supporting communication skills, emotional well-being and general engagement was improved Key Findings Thorough preparation and support from all partners involved including prison staff was key to the success of the project. The stress of transition experienced by children and families within the visit hall was reduced in an appropriately planned environment. Mothers and children sustained their relationship, vital to development and wellbeing for all. Mothers played a vital role in supporting their children’s development and learning.
It was important to communicate clearly to Family Day visitors, their role in Supporting this project. Key Findings (continued) Barriers such as feeling foolish or shy were overcome and mothers felt more confident in communicating with their babies and children. Well planned Family Visits give the children more time for quality contact, interaction and bonding The Family Days provided a memorable and meaningful opportunity for quality contact between children and their mothers. Photograph of families here
To develop a core provision of 8 weekly family days on the Mother and Baby unit to help ensure the best start for the baby and on-going resettlement needs of the mother. Recommendations Clearly, environments can play a huge role in facilitating effective Family Visiting. Review, audit and improve all environments which are used specifically for Prison Family Visits. The Communication Friendly Spaces™ Approach should be shared with managers of Family Visits in prisons to inform the development of more effective environments which facilitate good communication. The use of more creative tools and strategies can help to keep families connected and support transition into the carer’s home. To track the use of Family Visit Bags in another prison to compare the impact and response.
Our families described their experience of family visits held in the Mother and Baby unit “Brilliant” “Soothing” “Crucial” “Exciting” “Motivating” “Friendly” “Surprising” “Meaningful” “Relaxed” “Awesome” “Enjoyable” “Entertaining” “Beneficial” “Positive” “Powerful” “ Worthwhile ” “Inspiring “ “Convenient” “Good” “Fun” Photograph of families here
Press enquiries: ELIZABETH JARMAN® Molly Horsburgh ELIZABETH JARMAN® specialises in developing really effective learning environments using The Communication Friendly Spaces™ Approach, conceptualised and developed by Elizabeth Jarman. See for further information. Action for Children is a UK-wide charity that speaks out for the most vulnerable and neglected children and young people, and supports them to break through injustice, deprivation and inequality, so they can achieve their full potential. See for further information.www.actionforchildren.co.uk