Supporting Children Impacted by Imprisonment to Speak Out

Today we welcomed Ronnie Armour, Head of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, to NIACRO to meet some of the young people involved with SCOPE (Supporting Children & Siblings of Prisoners) – a Children in Need funded service that provides support to children and young people (aged 0-18) living in the Greater Belfast area, who have a parent or sibling currently in prison.

The event provided Mr Armour with the opportunity to hear the perspective of young people who have been impacted first hand by having a family member in prison. The young people discussed their experience of prison visits, and what could potentially make things better for them and others who may find themselves in similar circumstances. The young people and NIACRO staff described the support that SCOPE provides; including the upcoming creation of handbooks for children which will help them to better understand the custody process.

Olwen Lyner, NIACRO Chief Executive said:

“NIACRO believes that family support is a crucial element to reducing re-offending. Along with other voluntary organisations, we have pioneered best practice for many years and continue to support people in prison and their families to maintain relationships - ensuring that families can access the appropriate support and services which help lead to more effective resettlement.

We are delighted to welcome the Head of the Prison Service to speak with the children and young people, who are directly impacted by the imprisonment of a parent or sibling, to share their views and experiences.”

Research published this month has shown close connections between those in prison and family members can significantly reduce the risk of reoffending. In a landmark review, ‘Importance of strengthening prisoners’ family ties to prevent reoffending and reduce intergenerational crime’, Lord Farmer identified family as the ‘golden thread’ running through the reforms across the prison estate.

Further Information

Scope is a NIACRO service that provides support to children (aged 0-18) living in the Greater Belfast area who have a parent or sibling currently in prison.

SCOPE supports children to achieve 3 key outcomes:

  • Improving family relationships
  • Reducing social isolation
  • Ensuring children become better able to cope with the difficulties they may face associated with imprisonment of their parent or sibling and beyond

Further information on SCOPE can be found here.