Family Support – Why We Do What We Do
Our Regional Family Support Coordinator (RFSC) in Tayside has been supporting three members of the same family – mum and two younger siblings of a young man currently in prison.
Through meeting with mum it became apparent that the young man had been very disruptive and aggressive in the home prior to arrest, primarily due to his addiction issues. The younger siblings were frequently witness to this and were not only struggling to cope with their brother’s imprisonment but also with the tensions in the home prior to his arrest.
The RFSC worked with the mum to prepare the children for their first prison visit, talking about the things they would see and what their brother would and wouldn’t be allowed to do when they were there.
The outcome was that their first visit went smoothly, they said that it wasn’t as bad as they thought, and they both felt okay about visiting again. Mum said that no one outside the family knew about the situation.
With mum and the children’s permission, the RFSC met with the head teacher and both the classroom teachers to discuss the situation. It was agreed between mum, teachers, and the RFSC that the RFSC would meet with each of the children individually to help them explore some of their feelings, using material specially designed for children affected by imprisonment. The school offered additional support within school hours to both children, and the head teacher offered further support to mum, especially around homework and the behaviour of the younger boy.
As a result, the children are now able to speak freely about what has happened and about their fears around the imminent release of their brother; mum is less stressed knowing that the children are getting the right ongoing support; the children are engaging better in the classroom; and the family and the school are preparing for the brother’s release.
The RFSC has supported mum in exploring housing options for the son on his release and signposted her to relevant agencies to support her and her son. Relationships within the home have improved as mum and children are more confident in sharing their feelings with each other, and mum is feeling more ‘in control’ of her life and her choices.