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Seven Calls To Action

On Friday 14th June 2019, Children Heard and Seen and MyTime jointly hosted the first children’s voice conference for children with a parent in prison, ‘Our Time To Be Heard‘. The conference was held in the iconic Churchill Rooms at Westminster, and was attended by MPs, policy makers, Peers, academics and journalists. It was entirely devised by the children, who wrote and presented their own speeches, read out poetry they had written. The children got the chance to interview HMP Staffordshire’s governor Ralph Lubkowski, with insightful questions such as “Why aren’t there more family visits?”. Also the opportunity to interview two journalists from the BBC with grilling questions such as “Why does a person’s face, address, second name need to be in the papers? Why does it have to backfire on the children and everyone who knows the person?”. The conference was a great success and brought together children from around the UK who have a parent in prison, supported by ourselves, MyTime (Liverpool), Nepacs (Durham) and Families Outside (Scotland). At the end of the conference, the children announced seven calls to action. They identified that they need to be supported, they need to be heard, seen, and have their voices reflected in policy. There is currently no policy in place which supports children with a parent. This conference allowed the children to discuss what should be enforced in national policy to increase their mental health, wellbeing and generally benefit their lives and the lives of other children with a parent in prison. These are seven calls to action decided by children. They are ready for change. They want... read more

Our Time To Be Heard

On Friday 14th June a group of children and young people travelled to Westminster to tell MPs, Peers (members of the House of Lords), policy officials, journalists, prison governors and a handful of academics, what it has been like for them to experience parental imprisonment, and what they think should be done to change that experience for other children.  Our Time to be Heard Conference 14th June 2019 The children are all connected to community organisations that support children with a family member in prison. There are very few of these organisations across the UK and most were represented. Children Heard and Seen, My Time, Vox Liminis Kin project, Nepacs and Families Outside had gathered children from England and Scotland. The conference was conceived of and organised by Dr Lorna Brookes (My Time Project / Liverpool John Moores University) and Sarah Burrows (Children Heard and Seen). It was a child-led conference so the registration, key notes, questions, ideas, planning of the conference all came from children and young people. The role of the adults was to listen to the children and young people, and answer their questions about why the system is as it is. Read the full Article... read more

Sarah Burrows ensures prisoners’ kids are heard and seen

“The children of prisoners seem invisible in this whole equation,” says Sarah Burrows, founder of Children Heard and Seen. The charity supports children and families with parents or partners serving time, fighting the stigma and shame they face in their communities. Children whose parents have been convicted are three times more likely to commit a crime themselves, while 65 per cent of boys whose fathers are incarcerated will end up in prison themselves one day.  Sarah Burrows Burrows has worked with vulnerable children in Oxfordshire since the beginning of her career, when she left school and picked up a job in a local children’s home. She moved between studying social work and continuing in residential care until she joined a scheme that protects children at risk of offending.  While working to reduce the number of young people entering the criminal justice system, the 54-year-old was gripped by a need to know why they were becoming enmeshed in the first place. It didn’t take long for her to pin down a recurring theme – an overwhelming majority of them had a parent already in prison. Burrows assumed there would be tailored support available for a vulnerable group like the children of prisoners in her area; she was convinced that this was the key to reducing childhood offences. But, she says, there was nothing. So she took matters into her own hands.  Read the full Article... read more

Taking our children to Krakow COPE conference

By Maria Semmonds, Family Project Delivery Lead   Brilliant young people from England, Poland, Norway and Sweden! Each year it’s estimated that 312,000 children are impacted by the imprisonment of a parent.  As the prison population continues to rise, so does the number of children who experience a parent in prison. In the last 4 years we at Children Heard and Seen have worked with almost 400 children, young people and their families to support their needs, listen to their concerns, and have their views heard and reflected in national and local policy.  To us at Children Heard and Seen, It’s part of our ethos, that the children and families we work with have their voices heard, and therefore where possible we ensure they attend conferences with us, and their voices are part of the conversation on their needs.  Every year we go to the Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) conference, and this year we were able to take some of the inspirational, brilliant young people we work with along with us. The 5 children who attended had their own part in the conference, and it meant that they were able to share their first hand experiences with the other delegates, influencing practitioners and policy internationally about what needs to change to meet their needs. This was a phenomenal experience and Children Heard and Seen were honoured to support the young people to disclose their feelings on the European stage.  They were able to explain that even though they did not commit a crime, they still feel as if they are being punished. They discussed a whole range of... read more

What happens to prisoners when they are released, have nowhere to go but want to be close to their children to start rebuilding their lives?

To whom it may concern, Two years ago my husband was sentenced to prison for fraud and he is due for release in early September 2018. We have two children and are now divorced. A POCA hearing and subsequent confiscation has taken everything he owned so he has nothing. He has been working for the last few months while in prison to save up a deposit in the hope he can rent somewhere when he is released. However this is proving to be impossible. We, his family are in Oxford and despite his request to be sent to Springhill near his children he was sent to a prison in Gloucestershire. Apparently as he wants to find accommodation in Oxford where he has lived all his life and has family, there is little help where he is as their targets are for people wanting to be rehomed in Gloucester. He has had an appointment with his probation officer this week (his last before release). He has also had appointments with a housing officer in Oxford and Catch 22 but it seems that there is absolutely no help for him on his release for housing. His probation officer has said as he is not a danger to anyone or deemed vulnerable there is no help and she suggested if he gets really stuck she can get him a tent! How can this be? Yes he has made a mistake which has resulted in him serving a prison sentence (incidentally this was due to a gambling addiction which probation have yet to address and help him with rehabilitation) but prior to this... read more