When Irina’s partner, Dean, was remanded in custody, it was one of the worst times of their lives. The family had never experienced the imprisonment of a loved one and had never imagined that it could happen to them. For Irina, Pact’s support offered “glimmers of hope” that she had not found anywhere else.

Dean was remanded on a Thursday, and despite being advised by his solicitor that he would be in touch on his arrival at the prison, by Monday, Irina had still not heard from him. She was so sick with worry that she decided to go to the prison to make sure he was safe. It was there that she was met by the Pact team.

When a partner or family member enters prison, it is not just difficult for them; it is difficult for the family on the outside.

“When a partner or family member enters prison,” Irina shares, “it is not just difficult for them; it is difficult for the family on the outside. I don’t think the prisons and courts appreciate this when they take them there.”

Dean struggles with dyslexia and found the prison ‘kiosk’ difficult to use. He also had no access to his family’s contact details, so adding them to his approved visitors list had been impossible. Fortunately, Pact’s Family Engagement Worker, Freya, supported him in setting up his contacts and booking an all-important first family visit.

“With help from Pact, we were able to find out Dean was ok and visit him on the Monday afternoon. This would not have been possible if the team had not spoken with prison officers and helped my partner add us to his contact list. We still don’t know how long it would have taken to be reunited if we had not had this support.”

Freya supported Irina with booking future visits, including a double visit, so that she could make the most of her long journey to the prison. She also advised the family on how to send Dean clothing and other property, a process Irina found particularly distressing. For four weeks, Dean had only a tracksuit, a pair of plimsols, and a t-shirt leant to him by his cellmate. Irina tells us:

“When he was remanded, Dean had nothing with him, and no one told him how to book a property drop-off. Everything is on the prisoners to sort things, but they’re not always given the information. With help from Pact, we were able to drop off belongings for him. Once I knew he would have some clothes and things, it helped put my mind at ease.”

Knowing that the Pact team was there when she needed them was a huge relief for Irina during Dean’s first weeks and months in custody. “The emotional support,” she shares, “has been incredible. There have been times I have been concerned about Dean, and they have taken the time to speak with him to ensure he is ok and helped get him referrals to other professionals, including the doctor.”

In recent months, Freya and the team have supported Dean to reconnect with his daughter, Leoni, through secure video calls. The calls have meant the two can rebuild and maintain their relationship without Leoni needing to miss school. They now have a strong bond, and with Pact’s help, Dean is working hard to be the best dad he can be.

Not only do prisoners lose their freedom; they lose control of their whole life. Pact gives them some control back.

Irina explains: “Not only do prisoners lose their freedom; they lose control of their whole life. Pact gives them some control back. If it wasn’t for the team, I know we would not be where we are today. I can’t thank them enough. Thank you for realising there is a person in there who is loved and has made a mistake and for supporting us through this journey with no judgment.”