A recent event organised by NEPACS – North Eastern Prison After Care Society – gave the Relative Experience Project a chance to highlight the issues kinship carers face when they step in to care for children whose parents are imprisoned.
‘Coping with Custody’ brought together experts and policy makers to look at important new research around issues for families when a parent is imprisoned. At the conference we heard of the success of a two-year pilot Integrated Family Support Project, funded by the Big Lottery, that aims to provide a bridge between prison and the community.
The research highlighted that it is often the families of prisoners, especially the children, who suffer the harshest impacts of imprisonment and it is often kinship carers who are working to keep families together by looking after vulnerable children, often without any recognition and support.
Helen Attewell, the Chief Executive of NEPACS, asked the Relative Experience Project if we could identify a kinship carer who had practical experience of looking after a child while their parent(s) were in prison and one of our volunteers, Christine, agreed to run a workshop at the conference.
Christine was able to confidently tell her story to 15 professionals and carers and answered an array of questions. She made a huge impression on the group – and highlighted the issues that had affected her and her grandchild when her son was imprisoned.
The evaluation of the workshop brought some very positive comments and although Christine was nervous at first, she was able to use her very personal experience to put over the dilemmas that kinship carers face in this situation.
Christine has completed the Volunteer Befriending Training with the project and is ready to go into the community to support other kinship carers.
We are very proud of her!
Posted by Jenny Mckenna