When Theresa called the Pact Helpline she was extremely upset and frustrated and had no idea where to turn to. When she spoke to Donna, one of Pact’s helpline volunteers, she explained that her daughter Rachel was serving a 3 year sentence and she had just got the news that her grandson, Rachel’s eldest son, had just been sentenced to serve 18 months in a young offenders’ prison.

Theresa explained that Rachel was 9 months in to her sentence and that she had had time to come to terms with it and had been coping fairly well. However, since Rachel had found out about her son she had become increasingly distressed. She was calling Theresa every day to find out how her son was coping and was desperate to make contact with him.

Theresa had tried talking to social services and prison authorities to arrange a telephone call between Rachel and her son but wasn’t getting anywhere. After several weeks she was extremely frustrated and was becoming concerned about her daughter’s emotional well-being.

Donna provided a listening-ear to Theresa, and gave her the emotional support and empathy that helped her to feel less isolated. She was also able to offer practical information and take steps to help resolve the issue Theresa was facing.

Donna liaised between the prison Chaplain in the prison where Rachel was being held and her grandson’s support worker, and was able to organise a telephone call between Rachel and her son. Donna was also able to get the information she needed so that they could stay in touch by writing to each other. This was a great relief for Theresa and after Rachel was able to speak to her son she was a lot less anxious knowing that he was ok.

Donna wanted to make sure that Theresa had access to longer term support so she invited her to Pact’s Peer Support Group for prisoners’ families and friends. Today, Theresa has become a regular at the group meetings and having met other mothers and grandparents going through similar situations, has started to feel far less alone and better able to cope with the feelings of guilt and shame, and the practical issues involved with having not one but two generations of her family in prison.