Ella Sweetin, Nurturing coordinator
“Shortly, I shall be going into HMP Altcourse and working with 60 men on the Family Intervention Unit.
Going to get myself connected
One of the keys to rehabilitation is to reconnect prisoners with their loved ones through practical exercises that are tailored to their needs and that of their children, with play a pivotal part of early years learning.
But completing the course will not be easy for some, as we are asking them to open-up and step away to ask themselves the question, “how did I end up here?
For some, that might be via a traumatic childhood where emotions were buried and they were told to “man-up” and reminded, “big boys don’t cry.”
Unlocking their potential
I am convinced that this nurturing will make them positive parents, who are self-aware and empathetic enough to respond to previously difficult situations, well.
After six months, my hope is to hear positive feedback, notice the changes we have made in family interactions and see more confident individuals who can respond assertively and not aggressively. I also want their wives and partners, who are signposted to services such as their local Children’s Centre for Early Years Support plus housing and debt advice, to be fully involved.
A great setting – bar none
After 23 years of experience working in nursery settings, some people around me are curious and a little fearful of my working in a prison. It will be a completely different environment, but it doesn’t frighten me. I know many of the families already and by volunteering, the men have already shown a willingness to learn and reconnect with their loved ones.
But we must break the cycle and alter their mindset during the Nurturing course. Only by doing that, will things change.”
Ella Sweetin has been seconded to the post of Nurturing coordinator by Liverpool City Council.
The scheme is funded by the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership.