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Landmark charter changes prisoners' families lives, Isle of Wight

Release Date: 12 Aug 2014

Children and criminal justice services across the Isle of Wight have joined together to launch a landmark ‘charter’ to support children with a family member in prison.

Children who have family members in prison are some of the most overlooked and isolated in the UK, and have disrupted childhoods that can ruin their life chances.  

Nationally it’s estimated that 200,000 children have a parent in prison. On the Isle of Wight, of the 1200 children born each year, 84 will experience the imprisonment of a parent during their school years – around 7% of all children.

Barnardo’s Community Support for Offenders' Families (CSOF) has been working with over ten local organisations and services, from schools to the Youth Offending Team (YOT), to develop a charter to support these families. The charter commits organisations to undertake ‘hidden sentence’ training* and appoint a staff member to ‘champion’ the needs of these vulnerable children and their families.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, will help launch the charter at Newport Congregational Church.  He comments: “I’m delighted to be launching this landmark charter that will help ensure children with parents or family members in prison will be recognised and supported.

“Children with a parent in prison have done nothing wrong, yet they can be left feeling like they are serving a sentence themselves.  They are the innocent victims.

“We hope every agency on the Isle of Wight that works with families and young people - or within the Criminal Justice System - will sign up and commit to helping these marginalised children so they can be protected and their needs addressed”.

The Barnardo’s CSOF supports children and families where a family member is involved in the Criminal Justice System.  Their work includes signposting parents to advice agencies, help with visiting arrangements, advice on ensuring a successful prison visit, a chance to talk confidentially about any concerns and direct family support work.

The charter will help support children and young people who have a close relative in the Criminal Justice System.

Notes to editors:

* Action for Prisoner’s Families ‘Hidden Sentence’ course, trains professionals to recognise and help tackle the issues facing children who have a parent / sibling in prison and their families. Barnardo’s helps deliver monthly training sessions to organisations who work with families and the Criminal Justice System across the Isle of Wight.

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