It was obvious from the start that despite the cultural differences between Uganda and Wales, the impact of a parent going to prison upon a child is fundamentally the same. Children of prisoners in both countries face a grim future dominated by the statistical probability that they will suffer limited or no education, poor physical health, mental health issues, emotional and psychological trauma, isolation, and an exposure to a lifestyle that will disproportionally propel them on a trajectory towards criminality and future incarceration.
On the 23rd September 2016 HMP Parc hosted a unique intervention that sprang from ideas suggested by prisoners and staff, to raise awareness and some much needed sponsorship that could be transferred direct to the Wells of Hope charity.
One prisoner had a great idea that the men on the unit could ask their own children to try and get sponsorship for Wells of Hope from their schools whilst raising the issue of children affected by parental imprisonment at the same time. We then heard that Sarah Beresford, an expert in the field, was going to come and give a presentation on her experience visiting Wells of Hope as well as her time with the Scottish charity Families Outside. Momentum started to build and Wells of Hope contacted us to say they were sending over a big box of gifts that we could sell, all of which were hand made by the children and families of prisoners in the charity.
By the time the day came, we had a host of volunteers and interested parties who attended including two organisations in Wales who support and work with African refugees, and who are connected directly to the Welsh Government.
The Wells of Hope children also sent a DVD they made of their school choir, and whilst they sang and danced on the big screen, the families ate together and started to purchase the handmade gifts… all of which were sold.
It was an event that will never be forgotten by those present, children, prisoners, staff and visitors alike, truly unique.
Head of Family Interventions: Custody & Community