Poems help to heal family bonds

A fun photo of Kerry Longhorn, Invisible Walls' Service Lead, who has encouraged prison Dads to express themselves by writing poems

Kerry Longhorn, Service Lead on Spurgeons Invisible Walls project in HMP Winchester
says, "We ran a Dads Together group, an informal lunchtime session where dads could talk to us and each other about fatherhood and families."

As part of this we would include something fun or creative.

“One such thing was poetry. We would read famous poems out, but dads would also brin their own poetry. It was a great way for them to express themselves creatively and help in the journey to rebuild those vital relationships with their children and families.

”These poems are by one of the Dads Together group. His family regularly attended our Family Days and Homework Club. Despite being in prison, he was determined to be a good dad to his children.

My Girls

 I love my girls
They’ve all got curls
They’re the greatest thing
in my curly world
They pull crazy faces
And dance and sing
In fact they can do
Most anything

They make me smile
And my heart goes boom
Every time they walk
Into the visitors room
We joke and we laugh
And now I nod and I listen
Because now I nod and I listen
Because now I think clear
I can see what I’m missing

I miss them so much
It makes me pull out my hair
And they feel the same way
So for them it’s not fair
Because it’s me who did wrong
It’s not them who’s been bad
So when I get out
I’ll be a much better Dad

Why Not

Here is something
we all should know
that is its important
for us all to grow
to stretch out a bit
and try a new thing
It’s an experience
that can make you sing

It challenges us
And can make you smile
If you fail, try again
For it might take a while
So if you are down
Thinking this is your lot
Don’t wallow in why,
Ask yourself ‘Why not?’

”He often sent his children beautifully illustrated letters, which we copied and put into a scrapbook for the family to treasure.

”You can get some idea of what this dad’s letters meant to his children in this note, written to him by his eldest daughter:

To Dad, 

I love you so much, always remember that. 

Tuesday I read a story about an invisible string. 

The string is made from nothing by Love. 

And if you hold one end we will always love each other. 

You know i’ll always hold one end. 

This string goes through anything, even if that one thing is a prison. 

Love you 


”He also wrote ‘New Gang’ to Spurgeons to thank us for our support. He’s since been released, has put prison behind him, and is doing well. And he continues to have a great relationship with his children!”

New Gang

There’s a new gang in prison
It’s an army of dads
We’ve made some mistakes
But we’re not all bad lads
You’re welcome to join
There’s no membership fee
We’re just learning new skills
Which inspire us to stay free

There’s a new gang in prison
We’re a positive force
and armed with a knowledge
Acquired on Spurgeons’ course
We have an agenda
and communication is key
To be the best dads
we can possibly be

There’s a new gang in prison
and this gang is hard
That’s us on the landings
dealing pink coloured cards
We huddle in doorways
and plot what we will do
for easter and birthdays
with paint, pens and glue

There’s a new gang in prison
with direction and purpose
We meet on a Wednesday
and write poems and verses
We slurp coffee and munch biscuits
until we nearly burst
Then strategically plan
to put our children first

There’s a new gang in prison
We stand out in a crowd
Our children come visit
and are boisterous and loud
They then paint our faces
Like tigers or clowns
but we don’t give a monkeys
because they’re allowed

There’s a new gang in prison
They use prowess and stealth
to provide their kids future
with wellbeing and health
Yes, we once made poor choices
Yes, we once did something wrong
but this gang is supportive
yes, this gang is STRONG!


Spurgeons Invisible Walls service won the 2016 Children and Young People Now Award for the Family Support Category for its work with prisoners and their families. 

Learn more about Spurgeons’ work in Prisons and the Invisible Walls service

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