Family relationships are often the main source of emotional, practical and financial support for people in the criminal justice system, from the time of arrest to after release. Evidence shows that strong family relationships play a key role in reducing the possibility of reoffending. Family members care for the children and other vulnerable relatives of prisoners. They send money, clothes and books into prison and help ex-prisoners find work and accommodation.
The impact of a family member’s imprisonment can be considerable. Imprisonment has a profound impact on families, in particular on the children of imprisoned parents, who are at least twice as likely to experience mental health problems, be affected by poverty and become isolated and stigmatised.
Obstacles to effective services to support families include inadequate funding, inconsistent commissioning and lack of knowledge about the complexity of different families’ needs.
The voluntary sector has played a leading role in designing and delivering vital services that develop and maintain social relationships, as well as supporting adults and children affected by a family member’s involvement in the criminal justice system. Clinks members have developed and delivered services that utilise the benefits of family ties and provide the support people and their families really need when a family member goes to prison. They do this through prison visitor centres and visiting services, providing extended visits and delivering relationship education.
Are you looking for voluntary organisations working with families? Browse our Directory of offender services.
Read Clinks case studies showcasing the innovative work of our members working with families.
Advising the Ministry of Justice
Clinks provides the chair and secretariat for an advisory group to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group’s (RR3) purpose is to build a strong and effective partnership between voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system and the MoJ.
We established a special interest group to advise on the commissioning of family services in prison. It brought together voluntary organisations with a specialisation in family work with commissioners and policy makers from the MoJ and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service to discuss what good family services look like and how they might be commissioned.
The group published a paper that sets out five core principles along with 15 recommendations to support family services commissioning processes in the future.
Clinks and the RR3 continue to work with the MoJ and HMPPS to inform the development of commissioning processes and support for providers entering into these processes.