Intervention Activities

  
Mothers' Support Groups
Family ties building activities

Children’s Support Groups (CHIP-SG) - Peer-teaching through drama techniques: The peer-teaching technique was selected because all people -children, even more than adults- are more likely to listen & adopt messages if they know (or even assume) that the “messenger” shares similar characteristics & faces the same concerns with them. The use of peer teaching is expected to possess increased effectiveness because peer-facilitators use a similar language style, they tend to interact more with their peers & they can exchange information with peers more effectively. Drama technique was preferred over others due to the sensitive nature of the topic that has to be handled, namely the empowerment of children in order to be able to explore & handle the difficulties their parent’s imprisonment imposes on their everyday life by:
  • offering a positive & safe environment for the children to explore these sensitive issues
  • developing children’s resilience, their personal, social & cognitive skills & their understanding of the issue of how imprisonment affects their personal life & mother-child relationship
  • identifying & deconstructing myths about imprisonment & family privacy issues
  • promoting their active development of harm-minimization & prevention efforts
This way, children will be encouraged, in a safe environment, to discuss issues & conflicts of family life; it is expected that children’s experiences will be closely related to their parent’s imprisonment. The aim of peer education is to help children to overcome feelings of isolation, shame or guilt related to their parent's imprisonment, to provide them with an opportunity to experiment with a wide range of social roles they can adopt in order to handle their conflicts (external or internal) as well as to enable them to locate sources of help & facilitate them to ask for help whenever needed.
As it is expected that the overall target group will be children of various ages, peer-teachers (older children) will be trained first through drama techniques. The peer-teachers will then undertake to lead a group of younger children (namely, to “teach” their younger peers how to resolve conflicts, by also using drama techniques) & so on. In all countries the peer-facilitators will work under the supervision, support & leadership of their trainers. One of the strengths of this design & its anticipated impact is that it will provide children & young people with the motivation & power required to get involved in generating solutions for themselves & in asking for help whenever needed (rather than trying to generate solutions for their IM or father or just being the passive recipients who simply have the “problem”). Children will be viewed as active partners in the process & a valuable resource rather than simply as recipients of an educational activity. They will work co-operatively in groups to explore these sensitive issues in a safe environment.
The CHIP-SG will focus on issues related to imprisonment of a parent but will also adopt a broader life skills approach, relevant to the development of healthy relationships; this is expected to lead to better results than a more narrow focus. Thus, CHIP-SG will include problem-solving exercises & decision-making scenarios through the combination of educational drama techniques & peer teaching.

Mothers’ Support Groups (M-SG) will be conducted on the basis of methodology used in a typical Parents’ School, aiming to enhance their parenting skills; additionally, the specific conditions under which IM are raising their child/ren will be taken into account [e.g. guilt because their imprisonment interferes with their capacity to be an efficient parent, special difficulty setting limits for the child, the fact that the parenting role is often undertaken by other member(s) of the family, etc]. Part of the sessions will be devoted to support IM to handle their own abuse experiences by use of material like the Toolkit developed under the DAPHNE project ALTRA1, a socio-educational programme on gender-based violence for women in prison. The specific topics to be addressed in each M-SG will be determined upon the results of the needs assessment survey that will be conducted prior to the formation of each group. Whenever possible, IM will be grouped according to their children’s age. In case there are pregnant women or women with babies living in prison, a special group will be assembled, in which a health visitor will provide support & education on issues related to healthy pregnancy, motherhood & in how to take care of the baby’s needs.

Family ties building activities for child-mother dyads. A series of activities will be organized & implemented for mothers & their child/ren inside or outside of the prison setting (e.g. interactive games for strengthening mother-child relationship, mother-child drawings, etc.). An exhibition will be organized in which the creations will be exhibited.

1. SURT (2008). ALTRA Daphne project: Tackling gender violence in prison: Manual of in-prison programmes against gender-based violence. Barcelona: Aurea. Available at: http://www.surt.org/altra/docs/manual_angles.pdf