Facilitator Spotlight (prisons): Peter

Peter has worked as a volunteer in HM Prison Brixton as part of the Chaplaincy team for eight years and, being a dads himself, feels a strong drive to support other dads who are marginalised and facing difficulties in prison. We asked Peter about his experience facilitating Kids Matter workshops in Brixton:

What inspired you to become involved with Kids Matter’s prison programme?

I have a personal experience of being a father, understanding the difficulties and not wanting the men to make the same mistakes as I made. Having been volunteering in Brixton prison on the Chaplaincy team for some eight years I feel a strong drive to support those men who miss their children enormously. I naturally feel empathetic and compassionate towards those who are marginalised and facing difficulties in prison. I felt compelled to help fathers in prison because I believe in the importance of second chances and rehabilitation.

What is it like working in a prison context?

It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to help facilitate Kids Matter courses which make a significant impact on the lives of prisoners through mentoring, providing emotional support and helping foster personal growth, rehabilitation, and positive change. Such courses give the chance to build meaningful relationships with prisoners based on trust, respect, and empathy, and can offer both parties a sense of connection and understanding.

What are some of the most common misconceptions about parenting within the prison environment?

One misconception is that parents in prison are not involved in their children’s lives. In reality, many are deeply committed to maintaining relationships with their children through letters, phone calls, and visits when possible. Another misconception is that parents in prison are unable to effectively parent their children from behind bars. While it’s true that they face significant barriers and limitations, such as restricted communication and limited opportunities for hands-on parenting, many work hard to provide emotional support, guidance, and encouragement to their children. It is also sometimes assumed that prisoners lack adequate parenting skills or are inherently unfit to parent. However, many prisoners are devoted to learning and improving their parenting skills through participation in parenting programmes.

What is something you have learned from running programmes in prison?

The programmes highlighted the significance of parental involvement in children’s lives, even during imprisonment. I learnt from the men about the impact of their actions on their children and how they gained motivation to maintain relationships and actively participate in their children’s upbringing. In addition, through interactions with programme participants, I gained a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the men, including limited communication, stigma, financial strain, and emotional distress.

What positive transformations have you witnessed as you’ve run Kids Matter workshops in prison?

One of the most noticeable transformations is the way men learn effective communication techniques, positive discipline strategies, and ways to foster healthy relationships with their children. These newfound skills enhance their ability to support and nurture their children despite the challenges of being in prison. In addition, the men want to become more actively engaged in their children’s lives, expressing a greater interest in maintaining regular contact through letters, phone calls, and visits, as well as participating in their children’s education and extracurricular activities. This increased parental engagement can have a positive impact on children’s well-being and development. By learning effective parenting techniques and communication skills, the men strengthen their relationships with their children and other family members leading to improved family communication which contributes to healthier family dynamics and facilitates a smoother transition post-release.

Scroll to Top