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Project information

Special family visits for prisoners' children

It can be tough for children with a parent in prison. Nepacs volunteers support families visiting prisons in the north east and plan special family playdays. Fun, food and craft activities provide positive family memories at Christmas and throughout the year brightening an otherwise bleak period.

December 2018 - December 2019

Charity information: NEPACS

  • Need


    The project addresses the concern that children and young people often serve 'a hidden sentence' when a parent/carers is imprisoned and that this can have a detrimental long lasting impact. There is evidence which suggests that parental imprisonment has a negative impact on children and young people’s wellbeing, with children of prisoners being twice as likely to experience a mental health problem and poor educational attainment. Anti-social behaviour and substance misuse is also more likely.


    Positive, secure attachments - reassurance that your imprisoned parent is OK and still loves you - are key to being able to process and cope with this experience. Family Learning and other special visits rekindle bonds and promote strong family ties. Nepacs believes that children affected by parental imprisonment should have the same opportunities as others and a right to family life - after all, they are not guilty of any crime. These memories boost wellbeing and protect against disaffection.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Provide a 12 month programme of special family visits at all seven north east prisons


    » Deliver at least 196 special visits including family learning/ homework clubs, arts/drama workshops, parent child, new Dads and family day sessions.

    What success will look like

    Each session will be evaluated and children’s and parents’ survey comments and suggestions will be taken on board. Smiles and laughter will be the main measure of success.

  • Impact


    We hope that the project will help break the intergenerational impact of having a parent in prison, and build children's resilience and ability to cope with a difficult situation. Although it will be hard to track longer term outcomes in every case, those children whose parents are serving long sentences and continue to access the project will be monitored through Nepacs’ youth project. This scheme evaluates children’s sense of self-worth and the quality of their family relationships.


    Working in prisons is complex - there are restrictions on craft materials and photographs; all staff and volunteers need security clearance; prisoners may be associated with public protection concerns and the prison regime may limit opportunities for special visits since uniformed staff must conduct security searches, escort prisoners through the jail and supervise sessions. Nepacs has many years of knowledge and experience of working within prisons, and has excellent partnership relationships


    Donors will receive copies of Nepacs Update (quarterly newsletter) and our Annual Review. These will include details on numbers of visits, numbers of participants and case studies illustrating impact. Requests for more detailed monitoring information or visits to the project would be welcomed.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £12,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £1,000 Refreshments Juice, biscuits, fruit for parent child visits and buffet lunch for family days
      £1,000 Craft materials Paints, crayons, paper, T-shirts, mugs, fabric etc.
      £2,000 Toys and books Picture books, Xmas gifts, resources for family learning sessions
      £1,000 Workshops Expenses for artists, authors, animals (!), animators to create a stimulating environment.
      £2,000 Vol expenses Travel costs for vols at 7 sites (192 sessions)
      £5,000 Play workers Paid workers to support sessions

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    MOJ £7,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Nepacs has been based in Durham City since our origins as the Durham Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society (est. 1882). The project will take place at HMP Durham (a remand prison); HMP Holme House in Stockton and HMP Northumberland (Cat C training prisons); HMYOI Deerbolt (Young Offenders Institution); HMP Frankland (High Security prison); HMP Kirklevington Grange (Resettlement) and HMPYOI Low Newton (women's prison). Families and children come from across the north east region and beyond.


    The main beneficiaries will be children of prisoners. We hope that at least 2000 children will participate in special family visits, alongside at least 500 prisoners and 500 non-imprisoned carers. Wider society will also benefit as the project will reduce the likelihood of psychological disturbance for children affecting their future health and behaviour. Evidence shows that family visits also help to reduce the likelihood of prisoners reoffending on their release - reducing future victims.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Nepacs has a fantastic track record in pioneering work with children and young people affected by parental imprisonment. Over the last decade, the numbers of participating prisons and the number of family visits sessions has grown steadily in the north east. Our services have been praised by the prisons inspectorate and independent evaluators, and are greatly valued by family members who fill out our surveys and tell us what an amazing time they have had on our special visits.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Joe Iancu

    Youth project Co-ordinator with responsibility for planning activities for older children (alongside youth workers and volunteers)

    Margaret Smith

    Nepacs Trustee with responsibility for supporting activities for younger children (alongside play workers and volunteers)

    Alex O'Sullivan

    Operations Manager - providing overall co-ordination of delivery of special visits