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Father Figures Presentation

On Wednesday 2nd December, an event celebrating the work undertaken on the Pilot Parenting Programme, Father Figures, at HMYOI Brinsford was held at Staffordshire University. Father Figures is a unique and progressive thinking parenting programme funded by National Offender Management Service (NOMS). Young Fathers are encouraged by an experienced facilitator to consider their relationships with their partners, ex-partners and families, explore ways of communicating build on their own strengths through one-to-one sessions and a one-off group programme. The Family Intervention model is used during the programme as part of the BRFC (Building Resilient Families and Communities). The Young Father’s partners, ex-partners and families are worked with concurrently and supported out in the community, utilising outside partner agencies.

A broad cross-section of people attended the event including representatives from Police and Fire Services, Staffordshire and Warwickshire County Councils, Barnardos, The Princes Trust and Enable, to name a few.

Luke Serjeant, the Deputy Director of Custody for the West Midlands Region and commissioner of the programme, began proceedings by giving an overview of the concept of the programme. This was followed by a personal account of how proud he was of his son when he was born, then relating it to his feeling of how important it is for young fathers in prison to be ‘allowed’ to feel the same way about their children, and be given the opportunity to bond and build on family relationships. This being one of the aims of the programme, to provide Young Fathers in prison stronger relationships with their families out in the community.

This was followed by Safe Ground’s Programme Manager, Sallyann Ploughman, detailing the structure of the programme and providing an insight into the group activities that take place by facilitating warm-up games with audience members. Governor Debbie McKay presented on the impact and value the programme has had so far at HMPYOI Brinsford, highlighting that even the most ‘restrained’ participant benefitted and as a result has gone on to receive a Life Award. Katherine Sharratt, Business Development and Sustainability Manager at Staffordshire County Council, spoke about the strategic partnership and development of the programme made between Safe Ground and Staffordshire County Council.

Father Figures has been running at HMPYOI Brinsford for over fifteen months and is developing into a progressive parenting programme that has throughput into the community. The highlight of the event were testimonials from a young father and a young woman, both participants from the programme’s first cohort, who spoke freely and unscripted of their experiences of the programme and the impact it has had on them.

The feedback we received after the event was very positive, with those attending saying how powerful it was to hear from people who have actually been on the programme and were confident enough to speak in front of an audience in unfamiliar surroundings. Early findings from evaluation are proving to be very positive. We hope to continue with the programme and enable more young fathers to build on their strengths, develop strong relationships with their child and family giving them a purpose and reason to stay out of prison by not re-offending.

Click here to read a delegates perspective of the event, as Victoria Gray from Give A Book gives her thoughts on the day.

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