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Families Outside has launched a new resource for children of primary school age affected by parental imprisonment. Written by Edinburghchildren's author, Mike Nicholson, and illustrated by Edinburgh College of Art graduate, Lily Wu Siying, My Diary follows a week in the life of a young boy whose father is in prison. The book explores some of the issues and emotions experienced by a child in this situation. These include difficulties with trust, the isolation of carrying the “secret” of a having a parent in prison, feelings of guilt, worry, and the sense of relief that they feel when they talk about their experiences and get the right support. My Diary addresses what it is like for children when they have a parent in prison at significant occasions such as birthdays and Christmas.
My Diary can be read by children on their own, or used as a tool by a family member or professional working with them.
Prof Nancy Loucks OBE, chief executive of Families Outside, said: “With up to a third of prisoners’ children experiencing significant mental health problems, My Diary helps these children realise they are not alone and that it’s ok to feel the way they do. We are delighted that such a resource is now available and hope it makes a real difference to children experiencing the stigma and secrecy surrounding a family member’s imprisonment.”
Children’s author Mike Nicholson said: “I am proud to be part of this. Writing about a young person with experience of family member imprisonment made me realise how isolating that could be. I hope that young people reading this hear something that helps them know they are not alone in what they experience or how they feel.”
Since the launch, professionals involved in working with children affected by imprisonment, including teachers and support workers from all over the UK, have provided positive feedback about the resource. One professional wrote “… thank you for this excellent, invaluable resource. It really opened my eyes to the unique challenges which children and young people encounter in this situation, and to what can change if they open up to just one trusted person.”
A child who has used My Diary said: “I like the book because it tells me what happens when Daddy goes to prison, it helps me understand.” Another commented “It’s good to see how other people feel – it’s not just you.”
To order copies of My Diary contact Families Outside Support & Information Helpline on 0800 254 0088 oremail firstname.lastname@example.org
My Diary is available to download from our research and publications page.
The video version of My Diary can be downloaded from our Vimeo account.
Other articles published in our December 2016 newsletter:
Other articles about struggling families: