As a serving prisoner, I still had an external duty to be a parent. I am aware it is a bit rich of me to have been concerned about my children whilst I was in prison, “why didn’t you think of them before going to prison, David?” would be and is a fair question to ask.
However, one thing that is clear and needs no debate, regardless of the why, what and how, it was not my children’s fault.
There are over 300,000 children in the UK with a parent in prison, a figure which rises parallel to the population growth of our prisons. When I first got sent away it was 1985, the prison population was approx. 45,000. Pre-COVID our prison population had grown to getting close to 85,000, almost double what it was when I first entered the revolving doors of custody at 15.
My parents, or my siblings, had never been anywhere near a police station, let alone a prison. Well, a juvenile detention centre it was at first, then youth custody, then prison. All after being excluded from the education system. The school to prison pipeline.
Did you know that the son of an imprisoned parent is 65% more likely to end up in prison?
Children fighting battles they are not even aware of, let alone equipped to deal with.
“There is a strong association between parental imprisonment and adverse outcomes for children, but it is also widely accepted that the impact a parent’s imprisonment has on their children is not fully known and that more research is needed. Compared to their peers, children of prisoners have been found to have three times the risk of mental health problems, anti-social delinquent behaviour and other adverse outcomes.“https://www.familylives.org.uk/
So, and I’m sure you agree with me, it isn’t the children’s fault. What can we do to limit the damage?
Fortunately, there are organisations out there doing what they can to limit the damage caused by parental imprisonment. Children Heard & Seen and Storybook Dads are two charities who provide incredible support to the families of prisoners. I could go on all day about how deeply I feel about them, however, words and actions are two different things.
I had the perfect opportunity presented to me, by my good friend Ted Sherman, to show my love and support for Children Heard & Seen and Storybook Dads through my actions with the Pen and Corrections project. You can read more about the birth of Pen and Corrections by reading my previous blog of the same name here ‘The birth of Pen and Corrections.’
Pen and Corrections grew out of an impromptu discussion between two poets, David Breakspear and Ted Sherman.
It was during this discussion, in October 2020, that the idea of supporting currently incarcerated prisoners to learn about and write their own haiku was suggested.
Both, David–a former prisoner, a published poet and advocate of the power of creative writing -, and Ted–a passionate and published haiku poet–recognised that haiku, a short form of unrhymed Japanese poetry, had the potential to engage the interest of prisoners and provide them with the opportunity to express themselves creatively.
Creative writing can be an effective tool in an individual’s rehabilitation journey. With this aim, we ran the haiku project in late 2020 as a writing competition with serving prisoners.
All profits from the book sales for the collection will go to Children Heard and Seen and Storybook Dads – both charities that seek to help the families of serving prisoners.
You can support our project by clicking on this link https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/pen-and-corrections-haiku-by-serving-prisoners which will take you to the Pen and Correction Crowdfunder page where you can donate so together we can raise much needed funds for Children Heard & Seen and Storybook Dads who both rely on donations to continue to provide the amazing support they do to families.
Below are two videos which highlight what these two incredible charities do, followed by our campaign video.
Once again, here’s the all important Crowdfunder link: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/pen-and-corrections-haiku-by-serving-prisoners