Spurgeons' Prisoner and Family Support Services often organise a Family Day or Children's Visit in addition to visits in the Visits Hall. A Family Day will typically involve an activity which Dads and their children can take part in together.
Making prison visits less daunting
Having a father in prison can be very traumatic for children; the pain of separation and the anxiety involved in visits to a building with uniformed officers and tight security can be a huge burden.
It's also hard for the parent in prison - often then don't see their children grow up, and find it really challenging to reintegrate back into the family on release.
At our Spurgeons' Prisoner and Family Support Services, we want to provide a warm welcome and a safe and homely space in which visiting families can relax.
Allowing families the time and space to bond
Creating a 'family friendly' service can be a challenge in older prisons where the layout is inflexible, our prisons colleagues say. ''There is no room for a play area inside the Visits Hall, so when families go there to visit their dad, the children can get bored. If so, our volunteers can collect them and take them back to play in the Visitor Centre play area. This also gives parents the chance to chat in private.
''Prisoners may be allowed an occasional Family Day or Children's Visit. Dads aren't allowed to move around on an ordinary visit, but on a Family Day, we organise activities for them to do with their children. We're restricted by space and tight security as to what we can offer. We might buy a cake which they can decorate together.''
The team will sometimes include sandwich-making as an activity, so families who have had a long and costly journey don't need to buy lunch on the day.
One dad commented,
''These visits are very important to me and my family. The freedom we have together, away from other prisoners is the main reason. (It) helps to bond with your children on a better level.''
Support for families
Spurgeons delivers a variety of activities and programmes to support both fathers in prison and their families.
Read about our award-winning Invisible Walls service at HMP Winchester
The Art of Being a Dad
This online multimedia exhibition features creative work produced by fathers in the prisons we work in. It includes moving stories and poetry from the dads explaining what it’s like to be in prison and away from their families, and what their children mean to them.
Help for prisoners families
A series of animations to help you have those necessary conversations with children in your care.
Hear about how the StoryBook Dad programme works with fathers in prison
Top Tips for Families
Read our guide to supporting a child with a parent in prison
Support services and useful links for families affected by imprisonment
Offering a Helping Hand
Offering a Helping Hand is a new booklet, which addresses the impact of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) and other indeterminate sentences on prisoners and their families.
The booklet is a joint publication by Spurgeons and Southampton Law School and draws on collaborative work and families of those serving IPP sentences carried out by Associate Professor at the Law School, Dr Harry Annison. It is also informed by insights provided by Spurgeons' Invisible Walls team at HMP Winchester.
News and Blogs
Read the latest news and blogs from Spurgeons Prison Family Services
Hope for Every Child
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