Published on 08 December 2023

Dylan’s Story released to help children deal with visiting a parent in prison

A specially-created animation and book will give children dealing with the trauma of having a parent in prison a vital tool in coping with the isolation, shame and stigma they can experience.

Ormiston Families is releasing the animation and illustrated book to offer children an insight into life behind bars, what visiting prison is like, and ways they can cope with what can be a traumatic time in their lives.

The animated front cover of the Dylan's Story book showing Dylan reading in a chair while his dog Lola looks up at him

The cover of Dylan’s Story

The animation features Ormiston Families’ Dylan character – a young boy who also features in illustrated form at the prison visitor centres it runs across East Anglia, including at HMP Norwich, HMP Bure, HMP Highpoint, HMP Hollesley Bay, HMP Chelmsford, HMP Whitemoor and HMP Wayland.

‘Dylan’s Story’ shows Dylan’s confusion at his dad’s imprisonment, his struggles at school, loneliness, and the support he receives from Ormiston Families’ Breaking Barriers service, which supports children with a parent in prison.

It also serves as a resource for professionals working with a child affected by imprisonment, offering activities that can be worked through with the child.

Three men stand in front of a television screen showing a still from the Dylan's Story animation

John Merralls, operations managers for Ormiston Families’ Prisoners’ Family Services, Simon Marshall from HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and Declan Moore, governor of HMP Norwich at the prison’s visitor centre, run by Ormiston Families

John Merralls, Ormiston Families’ operations manager for its Prisoners’ Family Service, said children who used the service contributed to making the book, sharing their own experiences to bring the story to life.

“The children were particularly inspiring and brave enough to tell us their story, so we have been able to ensure Dylan’s Story represented some of what they have experienced to help and inform others,” he said.

“We all hope it will help to reduce feelings of isolation, shame, and stigma that are attached to parental imprisonment.

“It’s crucial for children and young people to recognise that although their story is unique they are not alone in what is happening to them and that help and support is out there if they can muster their inner Dylan and talk to someone.”

The release of the book and animation was marked at a special event at HMP Norwich’s Visitor Centre today (December 8) with representatives from the prison service and Breaking Barriers service users who contributed to the project in attendance.

The event marked a year since the Big Give campaign, which raised the £15,000 to pay for the animation and book project.

Watch the video here.

Copies of the book will be made accessible to schools, families and prisons.