£3m Big Lottery Fund Award
An innovative South Wales project aimed at preventing current and released prisoners from reoffending is celebrating the news today that it has been awarded a grant of over £3 million from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).
A total of £3,137,466 has been awarded to HMP and YOI Parc in Bridgend to run its Invisible Walls project, which aims to work with offenders and their families during their sentence and after release to prevent reoffending and address other multiple and complex social issues.
Over the next four years, the project will work with prisoners, their families and their children through a package of intervention which includes specialist parenting and relationship programmes for the whole family, advice about family debt, training and education, housing advice and support, physical health and fitness and support in moving towards employment.
Parc Prison, which is managed by G4S on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, recognises that, once released from the prison, ex-offenders no longer benefit from the support they received through intervention programmes.
This project follows hot on the heels of the successful pilot project which was funded with nearly £50,000 from BIG in 2010. That grant funded the development plan and the voluntary, statutory and private sector partnerships needed to provide the support.
Highlighting the importance of the project, Big Lottery Fund Wales Chair and UK Board Member, Sir Adrian Webb, said:
“The Invisible Walls project will see intensive support provided to prisoners and their families both inside prison and after release to help with resettlement and to curb the destructive cycle of reoffending. Prevention is better and cheaper than cure and there is a growing body of evidence that if preventative interventions are effective, we can all spend less money on services such as prisons, acute medical care and drug rehabilitation.”
Funding for the project is part of Replication and Innovation, a UK-wide funding programme that aims to use BIG’s networks and funding experience to target deep-rooted social problems. Over five years the programme will fund strategic initiatives working in carefully researched and identified areas of need.
Corin Morgan-Armstrong, Senior Manager at HMP & YOI Parc, said:
“Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund, HMP & YOI Parc now has the opportunity to begin the mobilisation and delivery stage of this exciting and unique project.
“Invisible Walls will seek to engage, support, and motivate prisoners through our ‘Family Interventions Unit’, the first, and currently only bespoke unit of its kind for male offenders, where they will work on an individual and group basis to focus entirely upon the importance and skills necessary to repair, develop, and maintain a healthy family relationship.
“The project will also seek to engage, support and motivate the partners and families of these individual prisoners, so that they too are proactively involved in the progress. Overwhelming evidence supports the tangible benefit in reducing reoffending that family focused work can have especially where it works with the whole family, and not just the offender in prison.
“Invisible Walls intends to work and support the individual, the family, and the community in reducing the likelihood of the prisoners returning to crime and prison after release, whilst also improving the quality of life for some of the most socially excluded in our communities, and thus the communities themselves. It is also hoped that this focused activity will help to derail intergenerational offending, which in itself in South Wales sees a disproportionate amount of young boys following their fathers into the revolving door of crime, court and prison.”
As part of the funding, Barnardo’s Cymru is among the organisations that will be providing the community family interventions aspect of the Invisible Walls project in partnership with G4S at HMP Parc. This work will deliver parenting and family support programmes to help resolve the negative issues that can impact on family members when someone is imprisoned.
Welcoming news of the funding, Barnardo’s Cymru Director, Yvonne Rodgers, said:
“When a parent goes to prison, the effect on those left behind can be profound. We welcome this news today as a significant step forward in developing services to help children overcome the difficulties they face when mum or dad is sent to prison.
“There is a strong link between parental imprisonment and negative outcomes for children. The children of prisoners are about three times more at risk than their peers of committing antisocial or delinquent behaviour, and more than twice as likely to have mental health problems. Almost two thirds of boys with a convicted father go on to offend if we do not intervene. Our experience tells us that providing support to the whole family is the best way to ensure positive outcomes for children who have a parent in prison.”
She added: “By failing to buffer the impact of parental imprisonment on children, we are failing to break the cycle – not only of offending behaviour, but of a whole spectrum of poor outcomes for children. We need to work together to offer support for the children of prisoners and their families.”
• An estimated 160,000 children in the UK have a parent in prison
• This is more than twice the number of children in care and over six times the number of children on the child protection register
• Prisoners' families are vulnerable to financial instability, poverty, debt and potential housing disruption and it is estimated that the average personal cost to the family and relatives of a prisoner was £175 per month
• An estimated 45 percent of prisoners lose touch with their families
• Compared to their peers, children of prisoners have about three times the risk of antisocial or delinquent behaviour, mental health problems and other adverse outcomes
• 65 percent of boys with a convicted parent go on to offend
For further information about the BIG Lottery Fund and how you can apply for funding, please visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk and use the ‘Wales’ specific search facility.