peep in prisons

This is how two different organisations at opposite ends of the country, both with Peep-trained staff, have used and adapted the Peep programme to support their work with fathers in prison.

prison project using the peep programme: Dads Inside and Out

staff: a Peep practitioner and a Prison officer

organisation: Aberdeen Peep, Aberdeen City Council

prison: HMP Aberdeen, Craiginches

aim: to support positive transitions back into family life for children (under five) whose parent is due for release following a custodial sentence.

programme structure:

  • Six sessions with fathers, followed by a seventh family session prior to release.
  • Focused talk-time: children’s needs and parental responsibilities, routines, play, child development, attachment, portfolio diaries.
  • Activities which provide ideas for positive interaction between parent and child and promote learning, e.g. stories, songs, puppet making, messy play.
  • Family fun session to enable learning to be put into practice.

feedback from fathers and staff:

  • Dads reflecting and thinking more about both the impact on their children, and the role of their partner in caring for their children whilst they are absent.
  • A dad who had been in prison since his child was 1 year old (now 4) had said he didn’t know how to interact with his son. At the family session he was animatedly sharing his homemade book and puppet with his son.
  • Dads reflecting on making longer term lifestyle changes to stop re-offending.
     

prison project using the peep programme: Time for You and Your Baby

organisation: Spurgeons’ Invisible Walls Family Support Service, Hampshire (who provide a number of interventions for prisoners and their families)

prison: HMP Winchester

funding: the Big Lottery

aim: to help families maintain their relationships during and after custody, by supporting families visiting the prison, and developing new and expectant dads’ skills and understanding about the importance of their role as a father.

programme structure:

  • Seven sessions with fathers, followed by an eighth family session where children are invited into the prison for a joint play time with their Dads, who can put their new skills into practice.
  • The Spurgeons team also work with the whole family, including introducing them to services within their own communities, especially children’s centres.

feedback:
The fathers felt they had increased their understanding of many aspects of child development and how it related to them and their baby, including:

  • the importance of positive interactions with very young children and different ways of communicating with them
  • the importance of music, songs and rhymes, and sharing books, for their babies
  • different ways that babies explore the world, make choices and learn through their senses
  • how to make the most of prison-visiting time.

The fathers were asked: ‘Would you recommend this course to someone else?’

‘Yes, it's a really good course and really helpful to build better bonds. Loved the sock puppet.’

‘It’s a good relief to know how important my children are and how I can still have a part in their lives. Although small, it is still a part.’

‘Get on the ‘Time for You and Your Baby’ course, you would love it.’