Hands: a short film

Our short film “Hands” explores the real life experiences and challenges facing prisoners’ families; their thoughts, feelings and reflections on the topic of stigma.*

In 2014 POPS applied to the BBC Community Doorway Programme to explore the possibility of creating a short film that would enable families to share their experiences of stigma and discrimination on their own terms. In doing so we hoped to create not just a ‘final product’ but a process, in and through which, barriers would be broken down and understanding would be promoted. We wanted to provide a forum in which stereotypes concerning both offenders’ families and the media could be dismantled, to build confidence and trust and ultimately to give offenders’ families a voice.

POPS work to support families of offenders through a range of services, in prison and in the community, across the North-West and nationally through the i-HOP project, in partnership with Barnardo’s. POPS was established by offenders’ families for offenders’ families and throughout our expansion the voice of families has remained paramount in our service development and delivery, as well as in our partnerships with agencies throughout the Criminal Justice System and in the community. The input provided by families is essential in ensuring our service reflects need. However we know through our own experience that the voice of offenders’ families is not often heard, or validated, in public discourse.

The BBC’s Community Doorway programme enables charities and community organisations to access the skills and expertise of BBC staff volunteers to deliver one-off projects. Welcoming applications from charities that work with people who are considered hard-to-reach, the scheme aims to connect BBC staff with hard to reach audiences.

Produced and Directed by: Jessica Spencer, Louise Hannah and Rebecca Cheung
Editing: Jessica Spencer and Paul Hayton

With special thanks to BBC Outreach, Tina Ntow and Sarah Drummond, and all the courageous families involved in the forums and filming.

*Holding hands is one of the only forms of sustained physical contact permitted between a prisoner and their family on normal prison visits. It became significant as a theme through the preceding family forums as we discussed ways in which families would be prepared to be filmed.