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Children of parents in prison suffer a 'hidden sentence'

Child Eye

7:36am 25th October 2017

Barnardo's is recruiting Dorset volunteers to prevent vulnerable children suffering a 'hidden sentence'.

The charity has been commissioned by HMPPS to support families visiting loved ones at HMP Portland.

Barnardo's wants to help encourage positive relationships and promote children's play during visits, in order to reduce the impact of parental imprisonment on young people.

Volunteers will also signpost families to important sources of information and support.

Barnardo's volunteer co-ordinator Penny Fisher said: "Families often suffer their own 'hidden sentence' when a parent is imprisoned, suffering stigma, depression, anxiety and social isolation.

"Children can be particularly affected and sometimes struggle to understand what has happened, while the remaining parent can be unsure of what happens next and where they can go for help.

"Therefore we want to create a small but friendly team of volunteers who will make a big difference to young lives by supporting them during this difficult period."

Tasks include welcoming families and promoting positive play between fathers and their children.

Help is needed at HMP Portland on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday afternoons.

Volunteers are also needed to support Family Days which are held at both prison throughout the year.

Penny added: "Research has shown that prisoners who maintain links with their families are less likely to reoffend upon release, so this is a unique opportunity to not only support vulnerable children but also benefit wider society."

How to apply:

No formal qualifications are required, but applicants must be non-judgemental, enthusiastic and have good communication and listening skills.

Experience of working with vulnerable children and adults would be useful but not essential.

Potential volunteers would need to undergo enhanced disclosure checks.

A full induction is provided together with ongoing support and supervision.

To find out more call Penny Fisher on 07734 300683 or email

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