Over 9,000 children in the north east are affected by having a parent in prison each year, many of which may not get the chance to visit their parent in prison.
We want to make it easier for children to visit their parent in prison to help maintain family ties and hopefully, help to reduce the impact of imprisonment on the whole family.
Last year, there were 23,550 child visits to our prison visitors' centres across the north east.
Visits for children should be as enjoyable as is possible and continual efforts are made to improve our centres’ fantastic play facilities for children. We have a children's mascot, called Buddy, to help the children feel welcome during their visits. Find out more about Buddy HERE.
Play areas at prisons in the north east are staffed by Nepacs volunteers and paid workers and are well equipped with toys, games and arts and crafts materials.
The play areas provide a break for kids so they don't have to sit still at tables for long periods, but interaction with parents is always encouraged.
Special children’s visits
Nepacs, in partnership with the prisons, also deliver a programme of special family visits throughout the year.
Special visits provide a much more 'hands on' experience for parents in prison than routine domestic visits, where prisoners are unable to leave their table.
Nepacs staff and volunteers organise play activities, learning opportunities and refreshments for parents in prison and their children. This means play, learning and lots of cuddles can happen in a more relaxed atmosphere and crucial family bonds are maintained.
Our range of special visits include weekly mother/child sessions (Low Newton) and father/child visits, weekly family learning or homework club visits (Durham and Kirklevington), first time dads and family/play day visits which take place during school holidays at all north east prisons. We also have visits to give new dads the chance to meet their baby for the first time.
1,678 children attended these special visits (2019/20), which give them the chance to spend quality time in a more informal setting with their imprisoned parents or family members.
Ask in the prison visitors’ centre or contact our family support workers to find out more about the special children/family visits at your prison.
We also have a youth project for children and young people aged eight to 17 years, including youth zones at some of the north east prisons and support in the community. Find out more HERE.
Helping children deal with and understand the imprisonment of a loved one
NICCO (National Information Centre on Children of Offenders) is a national website which provides links to a wide range of resources and information which can help professionals working with families and children of prisoners and also, information to support families: https://www.nicco.org.uk
We have picked out some of the booklets and information we think you would find particularly useful.
Locked Out publication - A new handbook designed to help children deal with and understand the imprisonment of a loved one has been published by one of our partner charities, Pact. ‘Locked Out’ is a comprehensive support guide and toolkit that covers topics from ‘To tell or not to tell’ and ‘Explaining specific offences’ to ‘What is Prison like‘ and ‘Children’s rights’. The guide is written in a clear and logical style and includes a number of interactive activities designed for children to both understand and express themselves. Hard copies of the 'Locked Out' guide are available from Pact, or an electronic version can be downloaded here.
Pact have also created a series of animations which are really helpful for children and young people affected by a parent or relative's imprisonment - Find out more here.
Time Matters UK - This booklet provides information and coping strategies for children with a parent or family member in prison - A free copy can be downloaded here.
Honest - Emma's story - This booklet for 4 - 11 year olds, tells the story of a young brother and sister whose father is in prison. The characters highlight important emotions and issues which a child in their situation may experience, in a format that is accessible to children. It can be read with children by family members, carers or professionals. In addition to the narrative the booklet contains notes for the reader to help answer any questions children may have. A free copy can be downloaded here.
The night dad went to jail - What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail (author Melissa Higgins) - this book is for children aged from 5 to 8 years
My dad is in prison (author Jackie Walter) - this book gives a child’s point of view of how they feel about their dad being in prison
When dad was away (author Liz Weir and illustrator Kerin Littlewood) - this book is for children aged from 5 to 8 years
Visiting day (author Jacqueline Woodson) - this book is for children aged 5 to 7 years - a young girl and her grandmother prepare for a very special day - the one day a month they get to visit the girl's father in prison.
There are a wide range of free resources and books you can buy online. The above are just a selection which you will be able to find online or visit the NICCO website for many more.
Activities for children and young people
Our team and other organisations have created resources and activities for children and their families to download, print or watch at home.