True Vision

films that make a difference

Prison, My Parents and Me

Back to ‘Our Films’
60 minutes
Alice Allen
Catey Sexton
Executive Producer:
Brian Woods

The number of children with a mum or dad in prison is growing at an alarming rate. More than 10,000 children visit a prison every week, but while their parent is on the inside, outside the children are often bullied and left feeling isolated and ostracised.

In a groundbreaking film for Children in Need, True Vision gives a voice to this group of young people and reveals what it’s really like to lose a parent to the criminal justice system. Over the course of several months, these courageous and resilient families allowed us into their lives to show us how their parent’s imprisonment affects them in different ways.

Bafta-nominated film-maker Catey Sexton offers a humane and sensitive insight into the lives of those often lost in the system and reveals how prisoners' children are twice as likely to suffer from poor mental health, while two out of three boys with a dad in prison will go onto offend themselves.

This film will show that when children are given support when they are young, their futures could be bright - instead of some of them becoming the next generation of parents in prison. But other than a handful of charities and few enlightened prisons making a difference, there is still long way to go.

The Children

Ruby (7) lives in Liverpool with her Mum, older sister Katie and young brother Albie. Ruby is adorably happy and bright and misses her dad every day. A family man, her Dad Michael is one of the lucky ones; he’s in a prison that is only a few miles from the family home. Ruby loves visiting her dad and, thanks to the prison actively encouraging strong family contact, gets to see her dad on regular family days and intensive parenting programmes. But as her dad’s sentence looms, Ruby is getting nervous. She wants to see her dad as much as she can but will his sentence change her visiting rights? We follow Ruby and her family in the lead up to the hearing and for the first time hear from her imprisoned father about his thoughts on his arrest and his views on the future and how his decisions have affected his children.

Cameron (16) has two brothers, Kaine (18) and Neil (13). Their mum Rachel is at Askham Grange prison having undergone an intensive rehabilitation programme. Though Neil has been to see his mum in prison, Cameron has refused to visit Rachel since she went to Askham Grange two years ago. More recently Cameron has been in trouble at school because of his behaviour and his grandparents are struggling without any help or support. When his mother Rachel is given days out on temporary release to mend their broken relationship, Cameron has the opportunity to start to rebuild the trust. Rachel is full of remorse and is determined to right her past wrongs and make it up to her children; but will Cameron forgive her and can they repair their relationship?

Alex (11) and Kyra (8) live in Merseyside with their mum. Bright and bubbly, both girls lead happy lives but admit that they struggled when, despite his promises to ‘be on his best behaviour’, their dad was sent to prison for the second time not long after his first sentence. Kyra struggled at school and Alex didn’t know how to express her hurt – but fortunately both girls were able to get some help from a Children in Need funded support group run by the charity PSS. The girls have also had one-to-one sessions and thanks to the support the sisters are coming to terms with their dad’s imprisonment and are encouraged to tell him how they feel. As their parents are separated they don’t often visit their dad, but with this support they are getting more confident. Will the girls get the courage to tell their father and how they really fell about him being in prison?

Clayton (15) lives in Oxford and has been raised by his Grandparents since he was 18 months old. Bridget and Dennis are incredibly strong and stable forces in his life but Clayton has had his fair share of problems and was bullied at school for having both his parents in prison. Discouraged by the constant insults thrown in the school playground, he took up the role that was expected of him. Sweet, bright and quick-witted Clayton now wants to prove himself different from his parents and has set out on a journey to show he can change and won’t end up like his mum or dad. As Clayton visits his dad in prison for the first time in 2 years can Clayton move on from his past and look towards his future?

With True Vision’s expertise in heartfelt and sensitive child-centred storytelling, together with ground breaking access and compelling and amazing characters, this film promises to lift the lid on this hidden population of prisoner’s children and will force many to question the meaning of punishment and think twice about those who are affected.


Person Shaped Support (PSS)

PIP Charity Support links

Action for Children

Action for children's centres help families turn things around in difficult times with practical and emotional support.

(Person Shaped Support)

We provide support to children with a parent in prison, or children whose parents have been in prison and have recently been released. Our ‘whole family’ model means we offer support to the child, their parent/carer and, where possible, the prisoner parent post-release.


Nepacs is a north east charity which aims to promote a positive future for prisoners, offenders and their relatives by supporting family ties at every stage of the criminal justice system.


Spurgeons supports children and families experiencing the loss of a parent through imprisonment. This includes child-centred family visiting support; community services for families of offenders and family based intervention to prevent reoffending.

Children Heard and Seen

Children Heard and Seen is a charity that works to mitigate the effects of parental imprisonment on children, young people and their families.
We aim to provide quality services for children with a family member in prison.


Partners of Prisoners (POPS) provide information and support to the families of offenders from their earliest contact with the Criminal Justice System (CJS), through to release and beyond.

POPS’ various services and projects including the management of Visitor Centres providing family services within prisons in the North West; Farida’s Women Centre in Oldham providing support to women and 2nd Chance - set up to offer pre employability support to ex-offenders, their families and those in recovery.

POPS 2nd Chance outlets include; Visit Centre tea bars located within 11 prisons across the Northwest, Community Café recovery hub HMP Manchester, Sandwich production centre based in Manchester, producing 3000 per week that are distributed to prison tea bars in Northwest and The Book Club Dry Bar Manchester.

For further information visit

New Hall Kidz

New Hall Kidz provides a friendly, welcoming and safe enviroment for all children visiting a loved one in New Hall prison. Helping Children cope better with the stress and trauma associated with visiting a loved one in prison.

Info Buzz

Infobuzz works throughout Gloucestershire to support children and families of prisoners through the Hidden Victims project. Infobuzz provides families with practical and emotional support to cope with the impact of a family member going to prison. Families are allocated a caseworker who will help them identify their needs and put together a plan of support. Further information and referrals:

Community Development Action

CDA Herts runs a play area in the visiting hall at HMP The Mount in partnership with HMP The Mount and HACRO.

Ormiston Families / Breaking Barriers

Ormiston Families is a leading charity for children, young people and families in the East of England. We provide services that support children and young people manage the challenges they face and improve their life chances. The Unite Programme works with prisoners and their families to minimise the impact of imprisonment on their children. Their services support family relationships to continue developing throughout the sentence, which plays a critical role in helping to reduce reoffending rates. Our community outreach service Breaking Barriers works on early intervention offering 1:1 support to children and young people who have been affected by imprisonment.


HALOW (Birmingham) provides services to prisoners' families to help them overcome problems faced by having a family member in prison. The purpose of the charity is to help maintain good family ties. They provide a range of services in visitors’centres at HMP's Birmingham, Featherstone, Oakwood (Family Pathway Centre) and Stafford,also at HMYOI's Brinsford and Swinfen Hall.


Riverside run the visitor centre for HMP Manchester. They provide support to families and friends at the HMP Manchester prison visitors centre, offering advice, information and refreshments and play facilities for children. Riverside also offer ongoing support to families via a sign posting service who work with families in their homes (- This organisation is called Out There )


The Jigsaw Visitors Centre was established in 1993, we provide practical, direct support to offenders in prison and their families, particularly to facilitate on going contact so that where possible family support will be available on their release. Our main role is managing the visitor’s centre at HMP Leeds, which we do by providing facilities and comprehensive support services for families and legal visitors, through our Family Support Team. We also provide a number of activities that not only support families and maintain links but involves the father in the development of his child(ren). These include; Family Days, Play Visits, Parent and Toddler Group, learning Together (Homework Club), Story Book Dads and Skrapbook Kidz. In addition to these, we deliver accredited rehabilitative courses and programmes to prisoners themselves.All of our work is carried at HMP Leeds.


Spurgeons supports children and families experiencing the loss of a parent through imprisonment. This includes child-centred family visiting support; community services for families of offenders and family based intervention to prevent reoffending.

Children Heard and Seen

Children Heard and Seen is a charity that works to mitigate the effects of parental imprisonment on children, young people and their families.
We aim to provide quality services for children with a family member in prison.


Barnardo’s has been highlighting the hidden impact of imprisonment on children and running a range of support services over the last 20 years across the UK.
Barnardo's, funded by the Department of Education, delivers the national i-HOP service - a one-stop on-line knowledge hub to support all professionals in working with children and families of offenders. This information and advice service brings together all the services, resources, policy and research concerned with supporting the children and families of offenders. i-HOP also produces guides and briefings for targeted professional sectors to support them in their work with this often vulnerable group of children and families.


FFOPS is a voluntary organization in Wales that provides a service to families and friends and ex-offenders who have come into contact with the criminal justice system.

Action for Prisoners and Families/Family Lives

Family Lives offers a confidential and free* helpline service (previously known as Parentline). Please call for information, advice, guidance and support on any aspect of parenting and family life, including bullying. Our helpline service is open 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday.

Vox Liminis

When working with prisoners and their families together, Vox Liminis strengthens and renews the family relationships critical to children, parents and carers alike, helping to reducing reoffending.


PACT have teams of family engagement officers in 26 prisons in England and Wales, and all but one Women's prisons in the UK. The engagement officers work to strengthen family ties between prisoners and their spouses / children.


Catey Sexton is an award winning filmmaker- - her first film entitled A Hundred Something, won both Special Prize – Prix Circum and Gold Award at the World Fest Houston.  Since then she has had an impressive slate of single films for the BBC, including The Trouble with Being Lee and The Madness in Me as part of acclaimed One Life strand. As well as the critically acclaimed 3 part series Ark Royal that followed the British troops during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Other credits include both singles and documentary series for Ch4, include Bunking Off and Secret Millionaire, her opening film was nominated for both BAFTA and Royal Television Society awards. More recently Catey was nominated for a BAFTA for BBC2’s Great Ormond Street.