We were delighted to co-host the event ‘Prisoners and Their Families: A Journey of Change’ at HMP Coldingley last week, with guest speaker Lord Michael Farmer.

At the event, guests heard from Governor Jo Sims and CEO of Pact Andy Keen-Downs about how the prison and charity is working together to provide vital family support services to prisoners and their families. Pact works with HMP Coldingley to provide groupwork and individual support for prisoners and their families on parenting, building stronger relationships, learning more about children’s early literacy and development and maintaining family ties during imprisonment.

(Left to right) Pact CEO Andy Keen-Downs, HMP Coldingley Governor Jo Sims, Lord Michael Farmer

Guests were also able to hear from Lord Michael Farmer, who gave a fresh and lively speech which provided an insight into his yearlong review of what works for men in prison to reduce re-offending and inter-generational offending. With the support of Pact’s CEO, CLINKS and other charities, Lord Farmer has visited 15 prisons and spoken with men in prison, their families, prison governors and officers, to get a clear, broad picture of family life for men in prison.

In his speech he said:

I have become convinced that it is very hard for prisoners to make the incredibly difficult but essential journey of change without good, supportive personal relationships. This must be the golden thread running through prison reform, and be acknowledged as the third leg of the rehabilitation stool. We need to get a lot better at harnessing the help of those families in our society and communities that are the most forgotten, most isolated and most stigmatised. Prisons and wider society must also go on a journey of change so that families get the respect and help they need.

Reading an excerpt from the foreward in his report, he said:

This report is not sentimental about prisoners’ families as if they can, simply by their presence, alchemise a disposition to commit crime into one that is law abiding. However, I do want to hammer home a very simple principle of reform. That principle is that relationships are fundamentally important if people are to change.

As part of the event guests enjoyed a tour of the prison’s print workshop, sign shop, engineering workshop and visit’s hall. They also heard directly from prisoners and family members who had participated in Pact’s parenting and relationship programmes and benefitted from one to one casework at HMP Coldingley. It was fantastic to hear the positive impact that this had on them and their children, partners and wider families, with whom they have been able to maintain and strengthen their relationships as a result of these services.  

We would like to say a huge thank you to Lord Michael Farmer for speaking at the event, and to Governor Jo Sims for hosting us at the prison. We would like to thank all of the prisoners and their families who participated and shared their experiences with our guests, and we would like to thank everyone who attended on the day.

To read Lord Farmer’s speech in full please click here. To see photos from the day visit our Facebook page. If you would like any more information about the event please contact [email protected] and to find out about our services at HMP Coldingley please contact [email protected].

To read Lord Farmer's Report please click here