Family and Families First programme

IMG_0525Prisoners who feel they have a good family connection and a positive role to play in their family are less likely to return to a life of crime.

Unfortunately, having a family member in prison adds strain to family relationships. This makes it difficult to maintain family bonds and often impossible to improve them. To address this, HMP & YOI Doncaster has developed the Families First programme.

Families First programme

Families First offers support and education to both prisoners and their families. It gives prisoners the opportunity to build bonds with their partners and children. It also provides a chance for a prisoner to learn how to be a good father.

Families First activities take place seven days a week. Click here for more information on how a prisoner or a prisoner’s family can get involved with Families First.

Families First courses and programmes include:

  • Child Development and Play
  • Parenting (for prisoners only)
  • Daddy Newborn
  • Daddy Toddler Mornings
  • Homework Dads
  • Treasure Box
  • Relationship/Building Stronger Families
  • Social Skills Course
  • Holiday Activities

“When sentenced my immediate worries were for my family and how they would cope as a prison sentence is not just on the prisoner but also on the family left behind… until I found out about the facilities on offer to me through the Families First Programme. The programme is helping me adopt a more positive attitude whilst in prison whilst developing new skills in fatherhood while I am absent from the family home.” (Comment from prisoner)

How can prisoners get involved with Families First?

Families First is advertised on the ATMs in prison. Prisoners can apply via the ATM or by putting in a paper application through the post. Families interested in taking part can enquire directly. Families First programmes are run in the Families First Unit next to the visits area.

The facilities available for children and babies in the Families First Unit include:

  • A baby changing room, with a microwave for warming bottles and food
  • A soft play area

What prisoners have had to say about Families First

“I would like to thank you for giving me an opportunity to show that I can be a good person. Before I arrived here I was a drug addict with no direction in my life, I wasn’t even capable of looking after myself let alone a child. The Parenting Skills ten-week course was very useful in helping me to understand just how much love and respect is required when being a parent. Daddy Newborn has been a positive experience from day one, it has also been a perfect opportunity for me to practice my newly found skill as being a parent [SIC]. You could say it does what it says on the tin. FAMILY FIRST. Just how it should be.” (Comment from prisoner)

“I would like to thank you for letting me attend my first visit with my new born baby girl in the family area with my partner. I got to bath her and feed her and felt my bond with my little girl can now only get much stronger.” (Comment from prisoner)

“I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for the family event… I’m serving a very lengthy sentence and its events like today that keep me going and help me keep my bond with my children and partner.” (Comment from prisoner)

“I just wanted to thank you and your staff for organising the Christmas activity day for the prisoners and their families. It meant a great deal to myself and our children as they got to spend time with their dad & meet Santa. They are too young to understand the situation their dad is in & it made Christmas more bearable.” (Comment from a prisoner’s partner)

“Tommy* had no real contact with his daddy (Paul*) other than phone calls and the odd normal visit because bringing Tommy into the prison was so confusing for him… Tommy wouldn’t even speak face to face with Paul never mind sit with him… Then we started doing father and toddler sessions where Tommy could have the interaction with his daddy that he needed. Just to been able to kick the ball with his daddy or play in the prison park or even just for them to run around together, the things we all take for granted on the outside. Father and toddler sessions have had a massive impact on Tommy’s and Paul’s bond and relationship its unreal you just wouldn’t believe just how inseparable Tommy and Paul are now…Me and Paul wouldn’t like to think what it would have been like now if we had not had the help and support from Familys First [SIC].” (Comment from prisoner’s partner) (*Names changed)