Children Heard and Seen

707. Sarah Burrows (Oxfordshire)

Sarah Burrows, from Oxfordshire, was inspired to set up 'Children Heard and Seen' after learning that 65% of boys who have a parent with a conviction go on to offend themselves. 

Determined to do what she could to break this cycle of intergenerational offending, Sarah founded the charity which uses mentoring and community activities to support children and young people who have a parent in prison. Children are matched to volunteer mentors who support them to fulfil their potential and raise aspirations.

Children Heard and Seen aims to mitigate the effects of parental imprisonment on children, young people and their families and consequently to reduce the likelihood of generational offending, mental health issues and family breakdown. The charity provides direct support to children of prisoners in one to one and group settings in both family homes and local community which includes multiple weekly activity groups for children and young people with a parent in prison. Activities includes making a song expressing their feelings about having a parent in prison, and photobooks to send to their parent in prison of their day to day life. This work also supports a solid foundation of relationship building prior to release enabling children to begin to form relationships with offending parents and have a safe space to articulate their feelings and view using music or pictures as a medium to express their feelings.

In a personal letter to Sarah, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“Through ‘Children Heard and Seen’, you have created an important support network for children facing challenging circumstances. Your programmes are giving a voice to children of prisoners and helping families to break the cycle of offending that can develop.”

Sarah said:

“I am very appreciative to have won this award and for the recognition this brings to everyone who has supported the setting up of Children Heard and Seen. Children of prisoners are an invisible group and I feel passionately that they should be supported to fulfil their potential. Breaking the cycle of generational offending is not only a positive outcome for the child but for the community as a whole by reducing the anti social behaviour and crime in their area. My wish for the future is that all the children in England and Wales will be supported by Children Heard and Seen not only the children of prisoners within Thames Valley.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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