Prison-based Family Support Services

Spurgeons runs family support services for prisoners and their families and friends who visit them, with a particular focus on children and strengthening family relationships.

At Spurgeons we have worked with prisoners and their families for years and appreciate how daunting an experience it can be for everyone involved. Our aim is to help families to re-connect in a positive way. We are always here to offer practical and emotional support.

''We always tell those we support that we are not interested in why they are in prison; we are here for them as a dad.'' - Kerry, Family Services Manager at HMP Winchester. Our approach to working with fathers in prison is to see them as dads first and foremost, to encourage them to be positive and proactive in their parenting role and to be the best parent they can be. The sessions we run are practical and non-judgemental. We also enable children to spend more 'normal' time with their dads through Family Days, Baby Bonding visits and Homework Clubs.

Our experienced and knowledgable staff are on hand in the Visitors Centre at HMP Winchester before and after visits, but whatever prison you are visiting, we have support and guidance information, online here.

HMP Winchester

At HMP/YOI Winchester Spurgeons runs family days, parenting courses for Fathers and provides special children's activities during visits. We also run our award-winning Invisible Walls Family Support service at HMP Winchester. Spurgeons staff (based in the Visitors Centre) and our partner organisations will be on hand before, during and after your visit to offer advice and support.

Visitors Centre

Are you supporting a child with a parent in prison?


Supporting a child with a parent in prison, might be something you never thought you would have to do. The situation may be complicated and you may be navigating the criminal justice system for the first time.

But when a child's parent goes to prison, it's important to talk to the child about what's happening. They might be confused, sense something is happening, or they might even have already found out some other way.

At Spurgeons we have worked with prisoner's families for years and have drawn from this expertise to create a series of animations to help you have those necessary conversations to children in your care.

The Art of Being a Dad

What is it like parenting from prison?

The Art of Being a Dad is an online multimedia exhibition featuring creative work produced by fathers in the prisons we have worked 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.

The project also looks at how maintaining family bonds throughout a sentence can improve the well-being and futures of children affected by parental imprisonment.

Support for families

Spurgeons delivers a variety of activities and programmes to support both fathers in prison and their families. 

Tom Ambler, with Selena, Johnny and Tommy

Invisible Walls

Read about our award-winning Invisible Walls service at HMP Winchester


StoryBook Dads

Hear about how the StoryBook Dad programme works with fathers in prison

Tom Ambler, with Selena, Johnny and Tommy

Family days

Our family days are a way for children to connect with their parent in prison

Family drawing

Top Tips for Families

Read our guide to supporting a child with a parent in prison

Sonny Maughan with Lavant and Arabella

Further Information

Support services and useful links for families affected by imprisonment

A view of a prison yard from behind bars

Hidden Sentence Training

Because families serve sentences too

At Spurgeons, we know that prisoners' families serve their own hidden sentences when a family member is sent to prison. It can be hard to find support for a variety of reasons.

It can impact families' financial, practical and emotional well-being, negatively influencing their contact and relationships during and after imprisonment.

Hidden Sentence is a short course for professionals who work with families, giving them an overview of the issues facing prisoners' families who are affected by the criminal justice system and a range of strategies and resources to help support them.

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.


Hope for Every Child

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