Children who have a parent in prison are rarely given the opportunity to share what for them is a deep emotional experience – but a new animated video has been created to help others understand exactly what children can face when they find themselves in this situation.
The youth team from north east charity Nepacs have worked collaboratively with Digital Me (a programme ran by Digital Voice) to provide young people impacted by the imprisonment of a loved one with a safe and creative way to share their story. The DigitalMe approach of animating their self-portraits helps them anonymously share their experiences of seeing their parent go to prison and living with that situation day in day out.
The DigitalMe video will help other families in a similar situation understand how the children can best be supported and will also help to raise awareness of the impact of imprisonment on children and young people.
Aelred Robinson, Nepacs youth project coordinator said: “This project was delivered online with three young people, who are being supported by the Nepacs youth team. They came together once a week to create their individual animations and over the five weeks the group were able to learn more about themselves individually as well as develop new relationships with one another.
“As the voice of children and young people can often be overlooked this project allowed young people to find their voice and share their story and be heard. A montage of clips from the individual videos will now be used to raise awareness of how children and young people are affected by having a loved one in prison and to encourage agencies to provide more support for children going through this very difficult experience.”
Amanda Lacey, chief executive of Nepacs said: “The Digital Me animated video has been an inspirational project for Nepacs. The young people were able to work with the digital experts and our youth workers to draw out the emotional impact of having a parent in prison. They have combined empathy and creativity to produce a video which we hope will have a profound effect on attitudes and awareness.
“When a child experiences the imprisonment of a parent or close family member, they become subject to their own ‘hidden sentence’ which brings feelings of isolation, shame, confusion and abandonment without someone who can readily provide answers or a listening ear. This experience can have a significant impact on mental wellbeing, relationships, educational attainment and behaviour, and young people are vulnerable to bullying and victimisation if other children find out details of their family member being in prison.
“By sharing this video, we hope to encourage agencies to identify children and young people who have experienced the traumatising event of a loved one going to prison at the earliest opportunity and to take a joined up approach to providing appropriate support to them and their families.”
Julie Nicholson, Managing Director of Digital Voice said: “Our team were proud to work with the young people who were very honest about the difficulties they’ve experienced. This has made the video a very powerful tool to help other children in the same situation and to help us all understand the support they need.”
Thanks to funding from Movement for Good award from Ecclesiastical Insurance Group the Nepacs youth team will be able to build on this digital art project over the next year and enable more children involved in the youth project to undertake innovative, guided, digital art-work projects, telling their stories and exploring their emotions through learning, and producing creative content highlighting their personal experience of having a parent in prison.