Empowering Parents in Prison

Mairianne Nairn and Gillian Forbes, supporting dads and their families at Inverness Prison

The following blog article was submitted by Mairianne Nairn, CALA Family Support Project Coordinator.

In my role as Family Support Project Coordinator, I have been working closely with Family Contact staff at HM Prison Inverness to offer a range of support and opportunities to dads and their families. Alongside Council colleague Gillian Forbes, I recently delivered a 12 week Pathway programme in the prison resulting in two fathers graduating with nationally recognised SCQF level 4 qualifications through the programme.

This is the first Pathway group to be delivered within a Prison in the whole of the UK and the first Pathway for the Highlands.

Every week we had a fun packed peep session, I’m sure the Dads and children would agree that Messy Play was the absolute favourite thing thoroughly enjoyed by all! After our hour of peep we waved goodbye to the families and got out the coffee and the chocolate biscuits and set to work on portfolios.

At the end of the 12 weeks, prison governor Stephen Coyle presented two dads with their certificates

Some weeks brought challenges, but the Dads were determined to achieve their goal and worked so hard, completing portfolios to a very high standard. We ended the 12 weeks with a celebration with the families and the Prison Governor joined us to chat to the dads and present them with their certificates. Thanks to the Community Justice Partnership’s generous funding we were able to gift each family a box of resources so they can replicate the activities at home.

The peep Pathway at the prison was only possible thanks to an excellent working relationship with fellow practitioner Gillian Forbes from Highland Council and Scottish Prison Service staff who supported the families along with all the other professionals involved throughout to ensure the programme’s success.

During the 12 weeks of the course, it has been a pleasure to work with the Dads to complete their portfolios and explore the topics. I have observed first hand the positive effect this has had on parent and child as their understanding of their child’s development and how best to support it has deepened. Peep is a wonderful programme that allows the practitioner to deliver an adult learning programme in a positive atmosphere with families learning alongside each other. I look forward to returning to the Prison to deliver another round of Pathway training where one of the dads is coming back to complete his level 5.

What is peep?

The CALA Family Support Team have a diverse set of skills and tools at their disposal to ensure we can give the very best tailored support to families and groups one of those tools is peep.

The peep learning together programme is an evidence-based intervention, developed by the charity ‘Peeple‘ and focuses on the all-important home learning environment and strengthening the relationship between parent and child.

Peep sessions come in all shapes in sizes as it is a wonderfully flexible programme and can be in a group, in the home, over a number of weeks or a one-off session. Above all things peep sessions are fun!

Peep sessions involve songs, stories, activities and discussion linked to the programmes five strands of learning:

  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Communication and language
  • Early literacy development
  • Early numeracy development
  • Health and physical development

The peep Progression Pathway allows parents to gain a City & Guilds qualification whilst participating in weekly peep sessions then taking additional time to complete a portfolio related to their learning during the session.


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