Fathers Together: Understanding and Supporting Young Fathers in Prison
In our ongoing journey with the Fathers Together project, University College London (UCL), City University and the Race Equality Foundation, we are excited to share progress on our research to explore the experiences of young Black, Asian and minority ethnic fathers in prison. The project will build on learning from research to co-produce a parenting programme for young fathers, based on the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) programme.
Data Collection Update
We have completed data collection in the first two prison sites which collectively hold around 200 young men. We have had an incredible response with most of the eligible young men willing to meet our researchers and complete a structured interview. We have also completed a series of qualitative interviews to discuss their childhood experiences and how prison has impacted their familial relationships and ability to parent. Data collection at a further three prison sites, is due to start this month and continue until the end of the year. Important insights from these interviews will inform the development of the parenting programme, in discussion with our co-investigators and lived experience group.
Understanding the Challenges
Recent statistics reveal that among the 86,000 prisoners in England and Wales, a significant number are fathers. The vulnerability of young men (aged 18-25) in prison is underscored by their often tumultuous pasts, marked by challenges such as mental illnesses, substance misuse, exclusion from school, and experiences of violence, abuse, or neglect. Importantly, young people from Black and minority ethnic groups are overrepresented in the prison population, facing additional hardships related to racism, discrimination, and low trust in statutory agencies.
Parenting becomes an even more challenging task for these young fathers in prison, and the associated difficulties in connecting and building relationships with their children and families pose emotional well-being challenges for both parties. The impact of imprisonment on families is enduring, with many children and young people affected, leading to increased antisocial behaviours and a higher likelihood of involvement in the criminal justice system.
The Race Equality Foundation is a key partner in this project, playing a crucial role in building on their work of the SFSC parenting programme aswell as a significant role in the Public Involvement (PPI) element that is shaping the Fathers Together study.
Engagement and Consultation
Crucially, the study engages regularly with a Public Involvement group consisting of individuals with lived experience of prison and parenthood. Throughout the research, events are planned to share findings and thoughts.
As we continue this groundbreaking study, we invite you to stay connected through the Fathers Together website (www.fatherstogether.co.uk) and Twitter (@TogetherFathers). Together, we can contribute to positive change and support for families affected by the challenges of parental imprisonment.