Professionals information
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Information for professionals

Here at Spurgeons, we have a range of services designed to support professionals in the community and within prison settings. We work with children and families that can be affected by a loved one’s imprisonment.

Statistics suggests there are over 310,000 children affected by parental imprisonment.

Research highlights that these children are three times more likely to suffer with poor mental health, more likely to engage in anti-social and criminal behaviour than their peers, and are at greater risk of poverty, ill health and experiencing housing issues.

Often, these children remain hidden within their communities with no single agency responsible for identifying or meeting their needs.

Our work

Since 2011 Spurgeons have been working at HMP Winchester and have witnessed the difference that working with fathers in custody can make to them and their family’s lives. We also understand that every individual’s circumstances and experiences will be different and that as professionals we need to listen to children and families and respond in a way that acknowledges these differences.

Experience of parental imprisonment is recognised as an ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience), but the children affected are not a homogenous group. There are wide ranging factors that will impact each child differently and these might include:

What factors may have an effect on a child?

  • Experience of arrest
  • Relationship with parent/carer
  • Whether they have contact or not contact with the prisoner in custody
  • The nature of the offence
  • Length of the sentence (short term/long term)
  • Mum/dad/carer/sibling in custody
  • Age of child/ren
  • Post release/resettlement arrangements

What we know: 

Many of the most intense emotions arise during the formation, maintenance, disruption and renewal of attachment relationships.

A child experiencing a parent going to prison may experience emotions and difficulties difficulties including:

  • self-blame 

  • confusion 

  • anger 

  • shame 

  • disruption to family life 

  • financial hardship 

  • disrupted education 

  • need to move house/ area 

  • and they could be subjected to stigma, judgement and bullying from peers and wider community. 

All these factors can contribute to a child experiencing trauma and poor outcomes. The term ‘disenfranchised grief’ is also used to describe this grief and loss that is not openly acknowledged, socially mourned, or publicly supported.

Illustration of the invisible walls project - dad being greeted by mother and child

Discussing prison with families

We recognise that it can be daunting as a professional to discuss the topic of prison with families.

Spurgeons support fathers inside the prison through parenting interventions as well as supporting their families through the visiting process and within their own communities.

The staff team have previous experience working in local authorities, education, probation and prison so have extensive knowledge and experiences to share.

Hidden sentence training

Explore more information on our Hidden Sentence Training Programme

Hidden Sentence Training

Offering a helping hand: IPP support

Find out more about our course for IPP support

Offering a Helping Hand: IPP

We have a range of services designed to support professionals working with children and families.

Advice and support

Access to a member of the Spurgeons team to offer advice and professional guidance in supporting children and young people affected by offending behaviour.

Training for professionals

Hidden Sentence Training & Down the Line Training, workshops that raises awareness of the impact of imprisonment and involvement in the Criminal Justice System on children and families.

‘Invisible Walls Champion’ for children of offender

Support for the identified individual in your organisation, including quarterly practice updates, as well as opportunities to share best practice alongside other Champions. You will also be provided with a resource pack containing up to date information on services and resources to support children and families of offenders.

Get in touch

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