Enabling Families Project


Our ‘Enabling Families’ workshop programme based at HMP Oakwood Family Pathway Centre aimed to increase awareness and understanding of the impact of imprisonment on prisoners’ families, particularly children. Over 12 months September 2014- August 2015 we successfully engaged with 558 staff and volunteers from a wide range of family support agencies, schools and community resources centres within the Wolverhampton area. We exceeded our target of 420 by one third.

The overall project was a success not with only achieving the targets set, but also making many new links and raising awareness with a wide variety of professionals and support groups that provide important services and support for prisoners families.

Over the twelve month period, we have been able to improve our own services for the prisoners, and their families’ by having organisations coming into the centre on a weekly/bi-weekly basis providing information such as employment, drug and alcohol advice, and benefits etc.

During the project period, we made several links with new organisations and officials in the designated areas. Some of the important links made were:

Gavin Williamson MP (South Staffordshire)

During the project period, we made contact with Gavin Williams informing him of the training available to professionals in his constituency. Several referrals for the course were made through this link, and we had the chance for Mr Williamson to attend the Family Pathway Centre to discuss this in more depth.

Left to right: Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, Bridget Cameron (Co-Chair HALOW), Daniel Daly HALOW Family Pathway Centre Manager

South Staffs Work Clubs
The work club comes into the centre bi-weekly basis and provides prisoners family and friend’s advice and support with housing benefits, IT training, debt, careers, budgeting, Volunteering, education and training course. This will have a significant impact of the effects of imprisonment and help reduce stress and anxiety that the family undergo.

Walsall Council: Mellow Dads
During the project, we had several members of Walsall Council attend Enabling Families training and from this made links to the prison direct which has gave the opportunity to run a Mellow Dads course for prisoners to help improve their relationship with their children.

Future developments:
The Enabling Families project has enabled HALOW, with the support of partners, to develop a range of training courses that have proved to be of value to a wide range of agencies, prisoners and university students studying criminal justice. We are currently exploring opportunities to build on the 12-month pilot, for example, by making resources available online; by securing funding to run the programme again both locally and in other areas, and, finally, by exploring new initiatives that draws insight from the real experiences of prisoners’ and their families.

Positive Feedback:
“Enjoyed the day, interaction is good, enjoyed the video clips and discussion afterwards, very informative”

“A good mixed variety of information – liked the discussions and interactive parts”

“I found it relaxing & the trainers were very approachable” “All in all one of the best training course I have attended” “Speaking to an offender was good”

The course aims to give participants the chance to:

  • Explore the impact of imprisonment on prisoners’ families Explore the current prison system Discuss the support needs of prisoners’ families
  • Evaluate the use and importance of knowledge about the needs and wishes of prisoners’ families
  • Discuss how to improve the co-ordination of services to provide more effective support for those affected by the imprisonment of a family member
  • Reflect on how to improve their own practice in supporting prisoners’ families
  • See first-hand the journey of prisoners’ families entering a prison establishment
  • See first-hand the journey through the eyes of a child entering a prison establishment

The main reason for the project Enabling Families to begin was an initial working relationship with a prisoner, his family, the older child’s Head Teacher, a member of the prison’s Offender Management Unit and the HALOW Family Pathway centre Deputy Manager.

An initial telephone conversation highlighted the need for better communication between prison staff and external organisations that have contact with prisoner’s families, such as Education, Healthcare and Employment etc.

The prisoner (male aged 31 years) has a son (aged 8 years) who was experiencing several issues coping with the loss of his father into a custodial environment. The son was showing separation anxiety, aggression and night terrors. The mother (Aged 36 years) was struggling to know where to turn and what to say to her son. After conversations between the Head Teacher and the mother, it was decided that they needed to link into the prison.

After a telephone conversation, it was agreed and arranged that regular meetings with the complete family, internal, and external support agencies who will work with the family and prisoner to maintain family ties and improve the child’s wellbeing. The meetings took place in a private room and it was an open forum to discuss both positive and negative issues faced that month. One of the important issues that came to light was the child believed that unless he behaved his father could not come home. This stemmed from a comment father had made to promote his child to improve his behaviour.

HALOW Case Studies & News

Families & friends of HMP Birmingham survey

Please can domestic visitors of HMP Birmingham follow the link below and complete this survey. The survey is only short, consisting of 7 questions. Thanking you in advance. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/52TNQXK  

A family from the travelling community has been attending Homework Club at HMP Oakwood FPC each Tuesday evening for 12 months; within the family are two boys aged 5 and 3. The elder boy would enter the centre initially quite boisterous, running in and out of the play area, around the tables where people eat, pushing his little brother around on a

A young mother was observed with two small children. The eldest (2 years old) was seen to be running around, letting himself out of the doors, taking toys from other children and not responding to his mothers requests. The Children’s Worker (CW) talked with the mother and found out the child had autism – she explained he struggled wit

Macmillian Cake and Coffee afternoons

The Staff and visitors at HMP Oakwood Family Pathway Centre rasied a total of £253 during our Macmillan cake and coffee afternoons, “thank you for your support to a good cause”. for more information visit Macmillan’s website: www.macmillan.org.uk

HMP Oakwood's Community Engagement

Over the last few weeks, the children have been creating their own tree decorations for the HMP Oakwood Family Pathway Christmas Tree. Once dressed, the FPC tree took part in a Christmas Tree Festival at a local church near to Stafford. Over 40 trees were exhibited in the church over the weekend of the 2nd to the 4th December 2016. The FPC tree was

Xmas Arts and Crafts

Over the past few weeks the children have been making and personalising their own stockings to display next to the Oakwood fire place in the Family Pathway Centre, create a warm relaxing display.

HALOW BIRMINGHAM is grateful for support from

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