Thanks to a grant of £1.3million in funding from the Lottery Bright New Futures programme and the Ministry of Justice, Pact will support over 2,140 young parents aged 18-25 imprisoned in HMP Cardiff, Swansea, with work also planned for Usk/Prescoed.
The Supporting Young Parents in Prison project will provide casework support, parenting programmes and support for parents in the community. Young people will be supported to engage in their child’s life from prison, make plans for resettlement, reduce re-offending and promote good practice in prisons.
The project will also support the wives, partners and parents of those imprisoned by linking them to existing local services and by providing relationship and parenting interventions.
Young children are often separated from their parents at the time they need them most. Sammy-Jo Moriarty, from Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, saw her partner sent to HM Prison Swansea in October 2011 before coming out when their daughter was six-and-a-half months-old.
She said: “Obviously, it’s very difficult, especially when he’s a first-time father. “He missed the scans, the birth, he missed all the night feeds and all the general stuff a first-time father does.”
Sammy-Jo said getting through on the phone to organise visits some weeks was a “nightmare”. She said it was only through a special Pact baby group for fathers at the prison, not in place everywhere, that her partner and daughter had quality time to get to know each other.
“It was one-and-a-half hours a week on social visits,” she said.
“We were fortunate enough to have the baby group – you get a two-hour visit, fathers can walk around, play on the floor, there’s bathing and painting, and they are able to bond with their children.”
As well as rolling out Pact baby group across Wales, the funding will introduce a scheme allowing families to receive sessions of therapeutic play for their children, in situations where children are having difficulty coping with imprisonment.
Explaining the need for the project, the Prison Advice and Care Trust Chief Executive, Andy Keen-Downs, said:
“Children of prisoners are the hidden victims of crime. They serve a kind of ‘hidden sentence’ that risks damaging their education, and their mental health. Prisoners’ children are also three times more likely than other children to go on to offend themselves, and this grant will help us to break the cycle. The four-year funding will enable us to support over 2,000 young families, with programmes to improve parenting skills, build stronger relationships, and achieve better outcomes for children whose parents are in prisons, and lower rates of re-offending by imprisoned parents.”
Pact are delighted with this investment from the Lottery Bright New Futures programme which we will use in partnership with the Prison Service to provide much needed support for young parents in prison across South Wales and their children.