A new project in Cornwall is due to launch this month that will support children and young people with a parent in prison. Supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Chief Constable, and Safer Cornwall through the Serious Violence Prevention Programme Breaking the Cycle, ACTing With Children will deliver a two-year pilot supporting children aged 0-18.
Detective Chief Superintendent Sturland, Devon and Cornwall Police said: “As Head of Protecting Vulnerable People for Devon and Cornwall Police, I’m delighted to support the launch of Safer Cornwall’s new project to help Children affected by Parental Imprisonment.
“Research shows that these children – possibly as many as 500 in Cornwall – are more likely to be affected by violence and will be vulnerable to exploitation, meaning they are at high risk of multiple harms. Furthermore, such children are not routinely identified and supported, either within the criminal justice system or education settings, so the new community referral scheme launching in Cornwall is pioneering.”
“This project really highlights the importance of early intervention in breaking the cycle of violence and this ethos guides our region’s Serious Violence Prevention Partnership which has funded this valuable work.”
The project is the first of its kind in Cornwall. Argyle Community Trust will provide tailored one-to-one and group support to children and young people affected. Awareness training will be provided to partners in Cornwall by Children Heard and Seen, and referrals will be taken from partners and through self-referrals directly from families affected.
Cara Mohan-Carr, Lead Training and Development Co-ordinator for Children Heard and Seen said: “We are delighted to have been commissioned to provide our accredited training to partners in Cornwall.”
“The harms caused by parental imprisonment are far reaching and without the right support, can last a lifetime. All children deserve a happy and fulfilled childhood and to be able to reach their full potential, sadly, children impacted by parental imprisonment can face shame, stigma, and social isolation.”
“It is commendable that Cornwall is committed to identifying and supporting children and we would hope to see more initiatives like this around the country.”
Almost 80% of families affected will not tell anyone outside close family and friends that a parent is in prison and there is no single mechanism that helps identify the actual number of children and young people affected, either locally or nationally.
The project will:
- Provide a way to reach children and young people affected by a parent going to prison and offer support.
- Offer accessible and inclusive support to children in Cornwall.
- Provide a child-centred approach with interventions.
- Aim to improve social, physical, mental, educational, and emotional needs and aspirations.
National research has found that the impacts on children can include increased mental ill health and emotional trauma, lower academic achievement, and anti-social behaviour. It can also lead to involvement in the criminal justice system, and social disadvantage.
The Trust will use their experience supporting at-risk, vulnerable, and traumatised young people, alongside evidence and research, to deliver this bespoke referral programme.
Argyle Community Trust Operations Manager Jason Chapman said: “We are proud to be delivering such a vital project. We were sad to learn that these children are not identified as vulnerable. They are considered an “invisible group” within an overwhelmed system in society.” “We have worked with young people from a diverse range of backgrounds. We are a recognised and trusted organisation with 30 years’ community service. We have trained staff and a strong position within the communities of Cornwall. Our work in schools and prisons will ensure we have the partnerships, connections, and experience to deliver for vulnerable young people in Cornwall.”
“Our bespoke approach will help us understand how trauma impacts an individual, what needs to happen to reduce any chance of re-traumatisation and build a relationship with them which increases their sense of safety, choice, and control. It focusses on what an individual needs”.
“We know that when a parent goes to prison it has a big impact on a child. It can affect their behaviour and it can change the way they feel about themselves. Reaching out to provide the right support at the right time is so important to help overcome these challenges and prevent more serious problems developing. It is a great step forward to be able to offer this support for the first time and it will help us provide safe communities where all children are supported to thrive.”Councillor Carol Mould, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods
Simon Mould, Chair of Safer Cornwall
“Safer Cornwall are delighted by the number of local partners who are ready to support this important initiative – taking up the offer of accredited training for their staff and changing the way that they work so that we can identify children affected by a parent in prison and help them to get support.”
“Working together, we can challenge the stigma that stops people from seeking help.”