Yesterday, Pact and Sodexo Justice Services held a showcase event at HMP Forest Bank to celebrate the creation of the Family Time Team, a partnership which delivers relationship education and parenting courses for prisoners.

Pact Family Engagement Workers work alongside Sodexo Justice Services (SJS) staff to identify and prioritise support for prisoners and families who are not engaging in visits or who need help to maintain and strengthen family relationships.

Pact and SJS staff also work together to provide support which meets the diverse needs of visitors to the prison, work one-on-one and in groups with prisoners to prepare them for visits, and deliver a programme of family days and structured play sessions which provide a safe environment for children accompanying adults on visits. The partnership aims to reduce reoffending and the risk of inter-generational offending.

As a result of this partnership, a range of group work is available for prisoners at HMP Forest Bank, including:

  • Family Days - specific family based visits, offering a more informal environment for families to interact and providing structured play activities for a range of ages, giving families the opportunity to play together.
  • Homework Club – weekly after school sessions which offer Dads the opportunity to support their children to complete their homework, or to work together to complete educational material provided by Pact.
  • Within My Reach – a course for prisoners which focuses on healthy relationships and how individuals can understand and form successful bonds and make better choices.
  • Family Literacy in Prisons (FLiP) – a programme designed in partnership with the University of Sheffield for Dads to learn how to play a central role in developing their children’s literacy using simple, everyday practices, based on the widely-used ORIM (Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and Model) framework – pioneered by Professor Cathy Nutbrown.
  • Dad and Baby Play – sessions which offer Dads the opportunity to play with their pre-school aged children, supervised by a play worker who will advise and assist parents during the free play time.

At the showcase event, attendees heard from speakers including Tony Lloyd, Mayor and Police & Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester, Professor Cathy Nutbrown and Professor Peter Clough from University of Sheffield, men in custody and family members who have participated in the programme, and partner representatives.

Andy Keen-Downs, CEO of Pact said: “We know from experience and research that positive, stable family relationships are the single most important factor in determining whether a prisoner has a home, a job, or the motivation to live a crime-free life when they are released from prison. We are excited to be working with Sodexo Justice Services in Greater Manchester in the Family Time Team partnership, which brings together innovative practice we have developed over the past 10 years into one prison.”

Matt Spencer, Director at HMP Forest Bank said: “We are delighted to continue developing our partnership with Pact in delivering opportunities for prisoners at Forest Bank and their families to improve their health and wellbeing, and reduce re-offending.

“Maintaining and improving family ties is an important pathway in reducing reoffending. Indeed the children of offenders are also statistically likely to become offenders themselves in the future so I hope and expect our partnership with Pact to play a big part in reducing this risk.

“Pact further enhances our resettlement provision helping us to improve quality of life in the communities in which we operate.”