Our Support Package
Children Heard And Seen is a charity that supports children and families impacted by parental imprisonment. We offer :
- One to one support with specialised staff for children to explore and understand their emotions surrounding their family member in prison
- Support for parents and carers around communicating with children, including ways to tell your child that their parent is in prison
- Activity groups for children to explore feelings and meet others in similar circumstances
- Volunteer mentoring to help children process emotions with a neutral person outside of the family home
- Parenting support
- Online support and online activities for children
- Activity days including our annual Summer Residential
Tailored 1:1 support sessions
We provide targeted support for children and young people. This can be delivered in person to families in the Thames Valley region and online via Zoom to families in other parts of England and Wales.
79% of the families we support have never told anyone outside of their family that they have a parent in prison. Sessions provide an opportunity to talk about fears relating to having a parent in prison and help children to understand the process of imprisonment by covering each stage of the custodial sentence. The course ends by looking to the future and encouraging children to think about what they want to achieve and where they want to be in 10 years. This is designed to instil a lasting positive self-image that empowers a young person to choose a different path to the offending parent.
Examples of our 1:1 support can include: therapeutic support through Drawing & Talking; exploring creativity and emotions through our Music Project; photo-book/memory box making; letter-writing support using our own designed templates.
Through our volunteer mentorship scheme, responsible adults are matched with children based on common interests, age, and the individual needs of the child. A mentor helps to ensure that a child has the opportunity to try new things, access resources and develop life skills, whilst also acting as a positive role model.
Together, the mentor and the child set goals to help in improve achievement in school, strengthen social relationships or develop new skills. Each mentor meets with the child weekly for one to one sessions, providing a neutral person outside of the family home that they can speak to about their feelings.
Our mentors provide support for a child over a period of six to twelve months. Last year, we provided volunteer mentors to 51 children with a parent in prison. The value of mentoring relationships can be seen in Ryan’s story, accessible using the button below.
Peer support and activity groups
We provide peer support work and group work for children with a parent in prison. These sessions combat feelings of shame by showing children that they are not alone. By speaking with other young people, children are able to share coping strategies and manage complex emotions surrounding their parent’s imprisonment. This improves the emotional wellbeing of children who attend, allowing them to maximise their own potential in other areas. Sessions can be delivered online or in person.
We support parents around all aspects of parental imprisonment, including how to tell children they have a parent in prison, issues around contact and visits and support around release as this is often the most stressful time for families. Our support is for the non-offending parent, whether or not they are still in a relationship with the parent in prison.
Parents have the opportunity to meet others in a similar situation and form peer-support groups, aided by our trained staff. We currently run a weekly peer support group led by two of the carers we support.
We understand that reaching out and asking for support can be difficult at times, and that many families follow our work online via social media for quite some time before reaching out for direct support. To try and help in the meantime, we offer a range of generalised resources designed to help families navigate the difficult waters of parental imprisonment. When a family makes contact with the charity, our specialised staff are able to work with the carer to create personalised resources, taking into account the child’s developmental needs, the nature of the parent’s offence and the child’s relationship with the imprisoned parent.