‘Keeping Children Connected’ Conference

Back to the FutureOn 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. POPS was also delighted to welcome Baroness Hughes, Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, and a range of other speakers from the voluntary sector, academic establishments and prisons.

Chaired by COPE President, Lucy Gampell OBE, this pan-European conference explored developments in the use of technology to support child-parent relationships and children’s well-being and tackled what ‘progress’ within the sphere of public perception and media attitudes might mean for children and families of prisoners. It also considered the ethical dilemmas that progress in this area can present.

The conference also featured the voices of children and young people through a short film produced by POPS in response to the Farmer Review. #WearetheGoldenThread drew the audience’s attention to the impact on children with an incarcerated parent and created space for their thoughts and feelings to be heard. An installation featuring the postcards on which the film was based took centre stage in a marketplace full of useful publications produced by organisations from across Europe.

‘Keeping Children Connected’ provided the perfect platform for the launch of COPE’s 2018 ‘Not My Crime, Still My Sentence’ campaign. Building on the success of previous years, 2018’s campaign focuses on translating the recent Recommendation issued by the Council of Europe concerning children of prisoners into child-friendly language. POPS was delighted to provide the first example in film format exploring with young people what they understood the recommendations concerning the use of technology to mean.

On the second day of the programme COPE’s membership took part in an informative Forum for Reflection and Exchange providing an opportunity for the sharing of good practice between agencies, followed by the annual General Assembly.

With delegates visiting from across Europe the host organisations took the opportunity to share examples of good practice, including a visit to the category D establishment HMP Thorn Cross, as part of the wider event programme. Delegates were welcome by Governor Mick Povall and invited to partake in a Parental Contact session where prisoners and their families shared their experiences of life in open conditions and the impact of a regime where respect is prioritised. An extensive tour of the prison showcased the full range of work and educational opportunities available to prisoners at HMP Thorn Cross as they prepare to return to their communities and families.

Download Conference materials below

Conference Programme

Speaker Biographies

Press Release

NEW! POWERPOINT SLIDES Some slides have been omitted due to permissions relating to content or images.

NEW! ADDITIONAL SLIDES Ann Adalist-Estrin: Ethical Dilemmas Guiding Principles for responding to the needs of Children and Families Impacted by the Justice System in  the Age of Technology





Co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union