This Christmas, Spurgeons Prison-based family support services at HMP Standford Hill, HMP Swaleside and HMP Elmley on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent have been providing vital support to fathers and their families who are unable to see one another due to Covid-19 restrictions. These services have been vital to ensuring families are supported over this time and colleagues have had to adapt quickly to create new initiatives in what would normally be their busiest time of the year at the on-site visiting centres.
Festivities included a ‘Make and Send your Child a Card’ initiative where residents from all three prisons were able to send Spurgeons colleagues a prison general application form to request craft packs to design and personalise a card to be sent to their child/family. Everything in the pack is sanitised and sealed before being given to the resident and once designed the cards are isolated in the wing office before being sent out to families.
In addition to this residents at HMP Elmley and HMP Standford Hill were able to send a prison general application form to request gifts to be sent to their child(ren). They were able to design and decorate a tag to attach to the gift before it was sent home.
At HMP Swaleside residents could apply to attend festive workshops in their wing bubbles. 2 residents at a time on a wing could attend these workshops which involved a Covid-19 secure set up with two members of the Spurgeons team being available to provide craft activities, enabling fathers to create their own gift for their child(ren). Colleagues were able to photograph the fathers making their gift and send this to out to their children.
Other activities being supported by the Isle of Sheppey team included ‘Socially Distanced Santa Visits’ which were advertised locally. Families could be nominated to receive a free visit from Santa, giving families who may not be able to afford to pay for a visit to Santa’s grotto an opportunity to receive a front door visit. Each child received a wrapped selection box gifted by local supermarkets and a pack of festive toys including snap cards, yo-yo’s and bubbles. The Spurgeons team dressed up and supported these visits which were made available to 30 families across the island.
These visits were also being delivered to resident homes for adults with learning difficulties and items collected for these individuals by the Spurgeons team as part of the Christmas giving campaign were gifted. Spurgeons sent Santa and the elves into their home garden with gifts for them and their carers. Outside of this, these residents would not be receiving gifts or visitors during the festive period.
About Spurgeons Prison-based Family Support Services:
Spurgeons delivers family support services in 12 prisons across England. These services provide family support services for prisoners and their families and friends who visit them, with a particular focus on children and strengthening family relationships. We appreciate how important prison visits are for everyone involved. Our aim is to make them less daunting so that the time spent together helps families to re-connect in a positive way. We are always here to offer practical and emotional support.
To learn more about our work in prisons, click here.