Supporting Families

Supporting Families: This is something that HACRO help with. The information below could support you – it offers advice about Caring Dads, HMP The Mount and more to follow, please click on the articles on this page to find out how HACRO could help you.

Children & Families at HMP The Mount

Supporting Family Visits is a vital part of what HACRO does. It is well established that maintaining family links while in prison is key to prisoners’ rehabilitation on release. At HMP The Mount our tea bar and children’s play area in the Visitors’ Centre are geared towards providing a warm welcome and listening ear to families who have often travelled long distances. Similarly, our play area in the Visits Hall provides a safe and supervised play environment during a family visit. Visitors’ Centre This is where visitors check in, and wait until their visit can start. As the picture shows, the Visitors’ Centre looks a bit forbidding (we can’t show people in it for privacy reasons) – but the people who use it tell us that having a tea bar, with volunteers to look after them is a great help. 98% of those who commented in our recent survey praised the service. 65% were happy with the quality of food and drink. Most suggestions for change asked for cover of more visiting sessions or a wider selection of food, both of which we will be working on in the coming year. Last year Annette moved on to run the Cool Bean Café in the Visits Halls, and her daughter Cat kindly held the fort for us while we recruited a permanent replacement. Heather joined as tea bar supervisor, and is now fully up to speed.

Visits Hall Play Area

This area is for children to play when their parents need to talk privately. Qualified play supervisors are provided by CDA Herts, and HACRO recruits volunteers to work alongside them. The number of children using the service continued to grow over the year, as we were able to put on more sessions than last year. In our latest Visitor Survey, 80% of the visitors who commented said the Play Area was good or very good. There were some suggestions for improvement to the selection of toys, and requests that the Play Area be available at all visit sessions. Family Services Commissioning Contract The current contract for Visitor’s services at the Mount ends in October 2017, and last year we started work on a bid for renewal. The new contract requires more input from specialists in family support, and an increase in the number of sessions to be covered, and we approached two charities specialising in family support. By the time of writing it had been announced that the new contract will go to one of these, Prison Advisory and Care Trust (PACT). HACRO will now act as subcontractor to PACT , covering an extended version of the work we have been doing in the past. We look forward to developing a fruitful partnership with PACT.

Caring Dads

Caring Dads is a parenting programme for men against whom there have been allegations of domestic abuse. We normally aim to offer 4-6 courses each year and in 2016/17 we ran 6 courses. Referrals come mainly from Children’s Services and recent courses have had a high level of demand. Our programme for the year 2017/18 is fully funded, following successful applications to grant giving Trusts. For several years we have received funding from Hertfordshire County Council’s Targeted Parenting Fund. For the last two years this was increased to 2.5 courses per year, but for next year it will revert to 2 courses. In the last year we lost two of our long-standing Group Facilitators. We need to train new ones. The only available training course was in Leeds and the cost of sending a number of trainees on a week-long course would have been prohibitive. We therefore took the decision to send our new Professional Lead, Jackie Toofail, on the course with the expectation that she and one of our trained and experienced Facilitators would develop an in-house course to enable us to train enough people with relevant experience to enable us to offer a full programme of courses in the future. This “trainer training” is scheduled for September/October 2017 and we have a good number of potential trainees wishing to undertake the course.

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