When Molly was 17 years old she had her first child - a baby boy. Her relationship with her son’s father was an unhappy one, and he had been physically and emotionally abusive to her. When her son was one years old she left her partner, and for her own safety, she and her son were moved into a Women’s Hostel. She was the sole carer of her son and though it was a struggle at times, they were happy.

A few months later, Molly was involved in an altercation and was arrested for GBH. She went to court, and although she wasn’t expecting a custodial sentence, she was sent to prison for six years.

A Pact Family Engagement Worker (FEW) met her the day after she went into custody. She was devastated at receiving this unexpected sentence, and was inconsolable about being separated from her son. Like many other women in prison (one fifth), Molly was a single parent and had never spent time away from her son. Fortunately, Molly’s mum, who had been looking after her son the day Molly went to court, was able to look after him on a longer term basis. Molly was glad that her son was being cared for by a family member, but told the Pact FEW that she hadn’t heard how he was doing and she was incredibly anxious.

The FEW called the social worker in charge of the case to check on Molly’s son, and found out that although he was missing his mum, he was doing ok. Molly was incredibly relieved to hear this.

Molly was desperate to organise visits with her mum and son, but it was several agonising months before she could get a visit booked in. The prison was several hours away from Molly’s mother, making the journey prohibitively expensive and difficult for her mother, who did not have a car.

Pact’s FEW was able to intervene, and organised for a volunteer to pick up Molly’s mum and son and drive them to the prison for a special, extended visit where they could play, cuddle, do arts and crafts and have some quality time to reconnect and bond.

When her son came in to the visits hall, he ran up to her and said:

Mummy, Mummy, I’ve found you. I’ve been looking for you everywhere!

Before the visit, Molly had told the FEW that she was feeling low and desperate, and she was struggling to see how she was going to be able to cope with being apart from her son for six years. She had been feeling helpless and suicidal, but after the visit, she felt a renewed sense of hope and motivation, and felt it gave her something to live for.

Molly explained to the FEW how important the extended visit had been, as standard visits can be a very distressing experience for a child - there can be shouting in the visits hall, and very upset families, children are not allowed to get up from their chairs, or play, or have much physical contact with their parent. They are not nice places for children and she didn’t want to put her son or mother through that experience. The special visit that the Pact FEW had organised was the only time she felt she could bond with her son and reassure her mother that she was ok.  

Over the course of Molly’s sentence, Pact’s FEW was able to organise regular extended visits, and as a result, Molly has kept her bond with her son. She misses putting him to bed and taking him to nursery, but is so grateful for her Mum who has been so supportive. This contact was a lifeline to Molly.  It has also given her the motivation to make plans for her release, and how she will continue to be a good mum to her son once she is out of prison.