Around 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 25,714 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.
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 visits (Durham and Kirklevington), first time dads and family/play day visits which take place during school holidays at all north east prisons.
2,205 children attended these special visits (2016/17), which give them the chance to spend quality time in a more informal setting with their imprisoned parents.
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 18 years, including youth zones at some of the north east prisons. Find out more HERE.
Helping children deal with and understand the imprisonment of a loved one
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.
Visit NICCO to find out about this resource and other resources which can help professionals and families: https://www.nicco.org.uk
For example: Pact have worked with children and young people who also have a loved one in prison to create a series of animations, click here.