The Blog

‘Keeping Children Connected’ conference launches response to Farmer Review

On June 8th 2018, POPS (Partners of Prisoners and Families Support Group) hosted the ‘Keeping Children Connected’ conference in Manchester in partnership with COPE (Children of Prisoners Europe). Bringing together a pan-European audience of subject matter experts and interested parties from across a range of fields, the event examined what progress looks like in the English and Welsh Criminal Justice System from a child’s perspective and the growing evidence base for a fundamental change in approach to ‘maintaining’ child-parent relationships. Topics covered within the overarching theme included the use of technology and the approach of the media to prisoners’ families. The conference welcomed Lord Farmer as it’s key note speaker, opening the event with an insightful and challenging address concerning his recent report into the role of families in the resettlement and rehabilitation of prisoners.

In response to the Farmer Review POPS has worked with children and young people from across the North West of England to produce a powerful and moving short film. #WearetheGoldenThread came about out of two important concerns. The first was…

How might POPS as an organisation, who contributed our expertise to the report, ensure that it’s existence is well promoted amongst the families about whom it has been written? If they are the ‘Golden Thread’, as the report describes, how do we encourage them to own this accolade and how do we let them know that the government has recognised their pivotal role in prisoner rehabilitation and resettlement. We know that this report has, and will continue to be, disseminated amongst prison professionals but we would be remiss if the families described as a ‘vital resource’ were not also informed.

Secondly and just as important, was to recognise the underlying message of this report. It is all about people…real people…with fears and failures, hopes and dreams.

POPS has always been about people and relationships. It is our firm commitment to give families a voice in and through everything that we do. We wanted the young people we support across the North West to have the opportunity to respond to the report and to remind everyone that this is not just a report to be filed on the shelf but a document that can have a significant impact on the lives of children and their families across England and Wales and beyond.

So we asked the teams at our prison visitor centres to share some information about the Farmer Report with the families they support and to ask the families and their children to write back to us to tell us what family means to them, the things that they miss and their ‘one wish’. Their responses were gathered into an installation which was displayed as part of the ‘Keeping Children Connected’ Conference and commissioned this short film as a reminder to all of us of this milestone in public policy but primarily to remember that at the heart of this report are real lives and real people.