A local charity which supports prisoners and their families has joined forces with NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to launch a guide for health and social care professionals.

Nepacs has produced a handy booklet and pocket guide, with thanks to funding from the CCG, to provide information and guidance for anyone working in health and social care so that they can better support children and families of prisoners in the area. The booklet will be available online from Nepacs and the CCG, and sent to health and social care professionals in the south Tees area.

Nepacs is a long standing charity which works across the north east region to help support a positive future for prisoners and their families. Staff and volunteers from Nepacs provide a number of services to support friends and families of prisoners, in seven prison and young offender establishments across the north east and within the community, including support within HMP Holme House and the Teesside courts.

The main aim of the guide is to increase awareness of the needs of prisoners’ families and children amongst health and social care professionals, and to provide information on what they can do to help.

The information booklet provides lots of useful information including:

  • How children and families are affected when a relative goes to prison
  • What health and social care professionals can do to help
  • What resources, training and support services are available for professionals
  • Useful contacts for prisoners families and professionals

Helen Attewell, Nepacs chief executive, said: “When a loved one goes to prison, it can be an extremely difficult experience for families, particularly children. It can have a major impact  on their health, development and wellbeing. Families can feel punished and stigmatised, and find it difficult speaking to relatives and friends about their situation. Although they are not in prison themselves, they are serving a ‘hidden sentence’ in their community.

“Families may not know who to turn to for support and as a result can feel isolated and unsupported. Health and social care professionals may be the first service children come into contact with and could be key in helping to identify and meet their needs and those of their families.

“We hope that this guide will provide health and social care professionals with the awareness and information they need to better support prisoners’ families and children, and to be able to signpost them to the most appropriate service.

“No one has to suffer alone, there are people and services available to help them and support them throughout the sentence.”

Dr Raj Khapra, a local GP  and member of the CCG’s Governing Body said: “The CCG is really pleased to support the guide and hopes that it will become a valuable resource for our health and social care professionals to support the children and families of prisoners.”

Copies of the guide are available to order from the Nepacs website www.nepacs.co.uk