(English) Welcome to our newest UK applicant member: POPS

In October 2014, Children of Prisoners Europe welcomed UK organisation Partners of Prisoners and Families Support Group (POPS) as an applicant member of the network. This further partnership—POPS and Children of Prisoners Europe worked very successfully together on the Coping project (2010-2013)—promises to be both interesting and mutually beneficial.

The year 2014 has been an extremely busy one for the organisation. Its work has expanded geographically and grown in scope, with an expansion of POPS community-based Family Support Services. POPS has supported the upscale of the multi-agency Intensive Community Order (ICO) across seven local authorities within Greater Manchester and partnered with Trafford Youth Offending Service and the Integrated Gang Management Unit (IGMU) to integrate family support services into their delivery.

POPS was recently successful in its bid to deliver Women’s Services in Oldham, commissioned by the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner. The funding is being provided by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner (OPPC) through the Women’s Services Grant to investment in interventions across the Greater Manchester area. This investment will help promote both national and local policy for women offenders’ services with the clear aim to divert women, where appropriate, out of the criminal justice system, provide a robust alternative to custody and assist with resettlement into the community after serving a custodial sentence. The service will work directly with female offenders and ex-offenders from a holistic family perspective and will assess, plan and refer through links made with specialist agencies. This will also include providing a support pathway for their families and working closely with the Oldham Community Safety Team, Probation, Jobcentre Plus and housing providers.

The charity was invited by Fixers (a project of the Public Service Broadcasting Trust) to be a part of a pre-recorded feature focussing on parents in prison for ITV Granada News. The aim of Fixers is to give young people a voice and to assist them in carrying out projects to raise awareness of issues that matter to them. This month the team at Fixers has produced a piece with two young women illustrating what it is like to have a parent in prison. They hope that the film will help prisoners understand the emotional impact of their imprisonment on their children on the outside.

POPS has had two papers published in the Prison Service Journal in November 2014. Written in collaboration with Kathryn Sharratt from the University of Huddersfield, the first article, ‘Incentivising Prison Visits: New Research Findings on the Needs of Children with Imprisoned Mothers and Fathers’, draws on the Coping project findings and recommendations to make the case for dissociating family visits from the ‘Incentives and Earned Privileges’ (IEP) scheme. The second article, ‘Nowhere Else to Turn’, explores the findings from the evaluation of POPS Offenders’ Families Helpline.

POPS and CEO Diane Curry OBE were the joint recipients of this year’s ‘Social Enterprise of the Year Award’ at the inaugural Downtown Manchester in Business ‘Women’s Business Awards’. Manchester’s business community voted for the best women leaders and women-run businesses in the city in the first annual Women in Business awards organised by Downtown Manchester In Business. The cream of Manchester’s female business community gathered to hear which of the 78 nominees had won the 14 awards – including Best New Start-Up, Entrepreneur of the Year and Social Enterprise of the Year. Michael Taylor, Chairman of Downtown Manchester In Business said: “These awards, and all the very worthy winners, are helping to break down stereotypes and promote positive female role models within business and enterprise across Manchester and the north west.”

Children of Prisoners Europe would like to extend a warm welcome to POPS. We very much look forward to working together to protect the rights of children affected by parental imprisonment.

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