Exodus focuses on the family system of prisoners including children to provide support and shelter for ex-prisoners and their families. On 12 June, they held a Day of Action in The Hague including panel discussions with organisations to discuss how to protect the rights of children of prisoners, and held a meeting with members of Parliament and young adults who had experienced parental imprisonment. See here for more information in Dutch and in English.
Throughout the year Exodus has organised workshops entitled “Vrij Verantwoord Vaderschap” (Fatherhood responsibility workshops) in which fathers in prison exercise together while discussing issues such as fatherhood, their children’s needs and how best to interact with their children’s caregiver at home. The organisation works to make the fathers aware of their children’s needs and the ways in which they can interact with them during their stay in prison and after. This is currently being carried out in four prisons in the Netherlands and Exodus hopes to expand to a fifth later this year.
Their Parents, Children and Detention programme is in place in 26 prisons across the country. This programme supports child-friendly visits in prison and, with the help of 200 volunteers, the programme reaches between 400 and 600 children per year. Finding better ways to reach out to children with imprisoned parents is one of the main goals of the organisation because, in most cases, it is the prisoners who ask to see their children. There are, however, more and more cases of social workers and other adults who work with children reaching out to Exodus to help facilitate visits. Exodus provides support for prison visits, as well as at home support and during the detention process.
On 31 October, Exodus will hold its first peer group session with children of prisoners and the volunteers who support them. It will be a time for discussion, in order to help them better understand their situation, as well as a time for relaxation, playing games, painting, and eating together. This is an exciting project because for many of the children it will be the first time they have the chance to talk about their feelings with other young people in a similar situation to theirs.
Exodus has also been a part of a process of restorative justice in the Netherlands. The framework, developed in 2014, has seen the launch of a working group this year that has members from more than 20 organisations working with victims of crime and/or offenders. Exodus brings the rights of the children and caregivers at home into the discussion, as well as the right to a better life for the detainee.
Finally, they continue to develop new volunteer activities in order to best support children and families. These activities include making contact with parents who are imprisoned abroad and helping ex-prisoners (who were part of the halfway houses provided by Exodus) with their newly (re)found life at home with visits with their children.
For more information, please visit: www.exodus.nl