CONNECTION – HOW TO BE A BETTER PARENT FROM BEHIND BARS?
PROJECT: ‘CONNECTION’ Program aimed at raising parental competencies. Original program created by Probacja, conducted in penitentiary institutions within the Małopolska Region. Working on social readaptation of prisoners implemented by lectures and thematic workshops, as well as visitations with children whose purpose is to rebuild the prisoner’s perception of parenthood by showing to them how crucial parenthood and parental skills are. The idea is constructed around the concept of family as a system in which each person has his/her place and all members are connected by an intertwining web of relations. Starting point for this program is acceptance of the fact that parent`s incarceration does not automatically eliminate him/her from the family system, but rather creates specific and defined circumstances, where such system will have to redefine and find itself.
Parental programs run by Probacja in penitentiary institutions are unique readaptation programs that fall in line with the needs of prisoners and their families. We receive very positive feedback from families and prisoners who participate in the programs. This program serves as an example of putting a creative resocialization idea to life and going against the grain of traditionally applied search and development of potential in the maladjusted individuals as well as creating for them perspectives of creating a new, individual and social self. For prisoners, participation in this program is a powerful experience, with the potential to shake their awareness and emotional core, thereby changing their personality. They get to know themselves and their family, experiencing traditionally repressed in the prison setting emotions. In the process of opening, prisoners share their feelings in a friendly atmosphere, they learn how to cultivate positive interpersonal relationships and responsibility for their social roles.
‘CONNECTION encompasses three areas of impact:
LECTURES – given with the use of multimedia techniques, in a manner that activates the participants (discussion, brainstorming). Meetings concentrate around chosen themes that serve as a starting point for discussions, e.g. on the value of family, mechanism that shape parents to become persons they are.
WORKSHOPS – designed to deepen, assimilate and put into practice the knowledge gained during lectures. During workshops we use methods such as talks, panel discussions, metaplan, case studies, brainstorming, practical actions, tasks set out by the instructor, questionnaires.
VISITATIONS – visits moderated and animated by specialists, with the assistance of volunteers. They contain both elements of individual work of the parent with their child, as well as group activities. Specialists overseeing the visitations apply methods that activate participants awaken their creativity: in arts, musical activities as well as activities involving motion/physical exercise. The paramount goal of those family gatherings is creating circumstances that as little as possible resemble prison reality and in its form approximate workshop activities offered by cultural and educational institutions outside the prison. Visitations prepared and conducted in such manner allow for integration and practical implementation of newly acquired during actual lectures and workshops skills. During visitations families may take family photos. This way of strengthening the connection within the family plays an especially important role, as it is the only possibility of being included in family pictures. Help in maintaining the parent-child bond neutralizes criminal factors imprisoned parents are subjected to during their imprisonment, similarly, helping the children on the outside who grow up without the parent. Regular visitations in a friendly environment make it easier for the child to assimilate the concept of his/her mum or dad in prison. Strengthening the bond gives the child a better chance of doing well in coping with a stressful situation – parent`s imprisonment – thereby exerting a positive influence over the general well-being of the child and the family.
British research concludes that maintaining contact with the family lowers the risk of reoffending by 39%. Moreover, in many situations, the child`s well-being becomes the much-needed motivation pushing the prisoner to change his/her behaviour. (source: www.safeground.org.uk). This project is intended to trigger change by inducing self-reflection over a prisoner`s individual situation, conduct, but first and foremost, to furnish them with knowledge and skills that allow for an active participation in their children’s upbringing process, as well as becoming a self-aware and conscious parent.