Early Years Scotland: Children Affected by Parental Imprisonment


The Early Years Scotland (EYS) team worked with Wren and Greyhound to plan an event to support the sustainability of the Children Affected by Parental Imprisonment programme. Using our tried and tested workshop template provided a cost-effective option that they could use flexibly with their stakeholder group and adapt as required.

What we did

After a short planning session with Graeme, the team were confident that the material was accessible and straightforward enough for them to use without further input. The workshop material allowed them to explore the importance of sustainability and to showcase the real-life stories and narratives which would help engage their stakeholders at the event. It would give them a structure to achieve their stated aims. The aims were to:

  1. Celebrate the success of the last four years of EYS’ work with Children Affected by Parental Imprisonment across Scotland.
  2. Share information about the Children Affected by Parental Imprisonment programme with a range of stakeholders who work to support children and families.
  3. Work together to develop new ideas for the development of the programme, based on attendees’ wealth of experience working with families and children affected by parental imprisonment.
  4. Consider other potential funding sources to ensure that the programme can continue beyond the Big Lottery funding which is due to end in March 2019.

The event design

The event opened with a welcome from Jean Carwood-Edwards, CEO of Early Years Scotland, inviting guests to celebrate the work of Early Years Scotland in prison settings. This was followed by an ice-breaker, enabling the table groups to get to know each other and start the conversation flowing.

A range of presentations then highlighted the impact of the programme from different stakeholder perspectives:

  • The EYS Service Manager gave an overview of the development of the Children Affected by Parental Imprisonment programme, the programme reach and some of the feedback from those who had taken part.
  • Dr Christine Stephen, Honorary Research Fellow: University of Stirling shared the findings of her evaluative research, highlighting the evidence supporting the programme as likely to be effective at improving fathers’ engagement.
  • The Operations Manager from the Scottish Prison Service shared his experience of hosting the programme in HMP Low Moss and some of the very positive changes he had witnessed in prisoners who had taken part.
  • Early Years Scotland Practitioners shared case studies and moving stories of how the programme had helped parents reconnect with their children and improve their family bonds.

After a break for refreshments, the second half of the event hosted a discussion on the sustainability of the programme.

This provided an opportunity for those working in the field to exchange ideas and best practice on how the Children Affected by Imprisonment programme was working well and how it can be developed to ensure future sustainability and funding.


The event was really well received by participants. Comments received on the day (see below) demonstrated that the team had deepened their engagement with stakeholders and opened up new considerations for partnership working. Several participants commented that they were going to signpost EYS to potential funders. Others had increased recognition of the importance of impact measurement.

As well as an opportunity to celebrate their successes, the event provided the team with a clearer focus to move forward to a more sustainable future.

As a result of this positive feedback EYS has decided to replicate this model (Horizon Planning Seminars) for other areas of their work.

Participant feedback following the event:

‘Thanks to EYS for making my job more amazing and allowing me to establish a far better bond with both prisoners and families.’

‘Personal accounts from (practitioners) were particularly powerful – thank you.’

‘Enjoyed hearing more about EYS and linking with other prisons.’

‘(I will) continue to work in partnership with EYS to maintain positive relations.’

‘The whole event was informative and the balance between listening and participating was excellent.’

Commitments participants made:

‘(I) will ask Head of Offender Outcomes of possibility of EYS coming to (our prison).’

‘(I) will continue to support the mothers and fathers’ programmes when possible within our establishment’.

‘(I’ll be) promoting programmes to the prisons that I am connected to and raise awareness in the local communities.’

‘(I will) look to identify funding opportunities that I can forward to EYS.’

‘(I will) advocate to our stakeholder community the work of EYS and the benefits it delivers.’

‘(I will be) dedicating more time in gaining feedback and reaching out to offenders who may be reluctant to participating in these programmes.’

‘(I’ll be) promoting this work to management – could fit in and work jointly with (our organisation).’