The project addresses the needs of children and families of people incarcerated in prisons and custody suites. Children of incarcerated persons are often referred to as the ‘invisible population’, ‘invisible children’ or ‘innocent victims of crime’. For a child, the deprivation of a parent’s liberty not only means the loss of a person important to them, but is also associated with shame, marginalisation, stigmatisation and peer exclusion. These children are also a group particularly vulnerable to engaging in criminal behaviour. It can be estimated that there are approximately 120,000 such children living in Poland.
As part of the project, the Project promoter worked with children and families of inmates. Children and young people took part in regular, cyclical empowerment and activation workshops (2 groups of 36 meetings each), while adults formed a self-help group. A helpline for families was also launched. The Project promoter organised five training sessions for professional groups working with the families of inmates, including school educators, social workers and prison staff. The trainings were devoted to the situation of children of inmates. The trainings took place in the penitentiary units in Krakow and Bydgoszcz. A scientific conference was also organised on the social functioning of the families of prisoners, with a particular focus on the perspective of the child. A social campaign “Not my fault, but my punishment” was also carried out, which drew attention to the needs of children; as part of the campaign, a film was made in which children talked about their own experience of having a parent in prison.
The project involved more than 300 people, children and adults whose loved one had been deprived of their liberty, as well as dozens of professionals working with the families of prisoners. Thanks to the project, the families of inmates were strengthened and integrated, their living comfort improved, the risk of social exclusion of these families and the risk of coming into conflict with the law decreased. They have received emotional support and learned where they can seek further assistance (legal or psychological). Thanks to the implementation of the project, it was possible to establish the first sociotherapeutic groups in Poland for children and young people whose parents are serving prison sentences. An important result of the project was to sensitise both those working with children and families and the general public to their needs.