Breaking Barriers Impact Evaluation
Ormiston Families’ Breaking Barriers service, which helps children affected by family imprisonment, is making a valued contribution to the improvement of children’s emotional well-being, a new report has found.
Breaking Barriers provides one-to-one support through community outreach workers for children and young people (aged 5 -16) affected by imprisonment. An evaluation report by the University of Cambridge found that the service achieves a stronger link with the family member in prison and improves the ability of children to address their feelings. This in turn can help their social interaction at school.
The report concluded: “The strength of Breaking Barriers lies in its specialist ability to help children and families affected by parental imprisonment.
“Detailed knowledge of criminal justice processes and understanding of the effects of imprisonment and particular offences on families enables Breaking Barriers to offer a distinctive form of support to children, which schools and welfare agencies often do not have the resources or expertise to provide.”
The report, carried out a review of Breaking Barriers from January 2016 to December in 2016. During this time the service received 49 referrals from across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex.
From interviews and evaluation sheets in case files, it is clear that many children valued the service; in particular their relationship with the senior practitioner. One child described their relationship as “really good: I really liked being with her. It was really fun and I was very happy”.
As a direct result of meetings, children often referred to feeling happier and more confident in talking about their feelings and their parent in prison: “We do things to make me feel happier, it took some of the anger away. I could talk to somebody”.
Teachers and staff in schools also reported the positive effects on their pupils. One teacher noted that: “It’s had such a positive impact on this child… He’s much more confident and will ask for help and support… in contrast to the beginning of September when he would often struggle in silence”.