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Focus on Barnardo's work

Scheme to help children with a parent in prison hailed a success

Child looking out

An evaluation of the new Barnardo’s Community Support for Offenders’ Families (CSOF) programme shows how life has measurably improved for the parents and their children who are being helped.

The pioneering programme is a partnership between Barnardo’s and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS). It has brought local services together to co-ordinate much-needed support for children with a parent in prison, who can feel isolated, stressed and stigmatised, together with being economically and socially deprived.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

“We know that children who have family members in prison are some of the most overlooked and isolated children in the UK. The disruption and distress this causes when growing up can ruin their life chances.

Barnardo’s is committed to giving these children continued support. We are finding new ways of working that improve and build relations between offenders and their families, and helping to embed this thinking within the new probation service for England.”

Following this successful evaluation, we plan to roll out further community support programmes for offenders’ families across the UK in the next two years.”

We are working with local agencies in Bristol, the Isle of Wight and South East Wales. The programme has raised professional awareness of the needs of families where the children have a parent or carer in prison or serving a community sentence.

The report, published last month, found that life measurably improved for families, with 9 out of 10 families who wanted to improve contact between the offending parent and their child saying that the scheme achieved this. Research shows that such contact helps cut re-offending. 75% of respondents said they had better access to support as a result of the programme, and 74% of parents said stress had been reduced. All said they felt relieved at having someone to speak to freely without being judged.

The expert Barnardo’s services are working to reduce the isolation which children of prisoners face within their community. They help children keep in contact with their parents in prison, support families with financial and practical concerns, and work to build family resilience.

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