20th November 2009

The Limerick-based Bedford Row Family Project has launched “Voices of Families Affected by Imprisonment,” a research report carried out by Kelleher Associates that focuses on the needs of families attending the project. The overall aims of the research were to give expression to families’ experience of having a family member in prison; to guide Bedford Row in its future work; and to assess the manner in which statutory policies, provision and practices in Ireland impact upon these families and their relationships. Interviews were held with 52 family members, including 11 former offenders, and with personnel from key agencies in the Limerick region and at Limerick Prison.

With respect to prisoners’ children, the report underscores the need for guidance for parents on how to tell children about a parent’s imprisonment and how to support the child; the need for more child-friendly visits and support services like bereavement counseling, self-help groups and activity-based group events; and awareness-raising among professional groups like counselors and teachers about the effects of imprisonment. The report did cite progressive developments at Limerick Prison in fostering multi-agency work, yet highlights the need for services for teen-agers and young children, as well as training for prison staff. The report also includes a review of key government policy documents and selected literature. To obtain a copy of the report or for additional information: info@bedfordrow.ie

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Author: rmchristen