Supporting children and young people impacted by parental imprisonment.
Children Heard And Seen is a charity that supports children and families impacted by parental imprisonment. We offer 1:1 support, mentors for children, group activities and arts and music based therapy to children who are facing the shame and stigma that is attached to having a parent in prison.
We actively encourage referrals from families themselves.
Tailored 1:1 support sessions
To provide targeted support for children and young people. This can be delivered in person to families in Oxfordshire and online via Zoom to families in other parts of England. 79% of the families we support have never told anyone outside of their family that they have a parent in prison. Our 1:1 support gives children the opportunity to discuss they parent’s imprisonment in a safe and non-judgmental environment, as well as explore their feelings around having a parent in prison, manage their difficult emotions, understand the impact of their parents’ offending on their family and the wider community and learn more about prison and the criminal justice system.
Our 1:1 support provides targeted interventions such as: 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.
Our mentors provide 6-12 months of weekly 1:1 sessions with their mentee. Our mentors act as a positive role model and provide regular opportunities for children to be supported through any challenges they might face. Our mentors give children and young people the opportunity to build a trusting relationship with an adult outside of their own family.
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 two online groups for children impacted by parental imprisonment, one for primary aged children and one for secondary aged. Our groups give children the opportunity to meet other children with a parent in prison, to make friends and to reduce their isolation. Our groups give children and young people the opportunity to discuss their feelings around having a parent in prison in a safe and non-judgemental environment.
All of the services identified cannot be delivered in isolation, in fact ‘Children Heard and Seen’, recognises the importance of joint working:
- Schools (primary and secondary)
- Children and Family Centres
- Health (e.g. CAMHS, health visitors and midwives)
- Prisons especially Prison liaison
- Probation Services and Community Rehabilitation agencies
- Any other relevant agency
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.