Irish Penal Reform Trust

First meeting of a network focused on change for children and families affected by imprisonment

14th August 2020

[L-R: Dr Fiona Donson (UCC), Rachel Brett (Vice President, COPE), and Michelle Martyn (Research and Policy Manager, IPRT)]

IPRT and the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, School of Law, University College Cork (UCC) have both received separate streams of funding to establish and develop a network to bring about positive sustained change for children and families affected by imprisonment. Find more details of IPRT’s funding here, and UCC’s funding here.

On 14th August 2020, we were delighted to hold the first meeting of the network, comprised of people with experience of imprisonment, community-based organisations, researchers and academics, and advocacy groups. 

The network forms part of a broader three-year project on families of prisoners, aiming to reduce harm for children and families affected by imprisonment, with a particular focus on reducing female imprisonment. This meeting marked the kick-off of the project.

The network aims to:

  • Provide a unified voice advocating for policy change for children and families affected by imprisonment  
  • Map and share current knowledge and disseminate best practice relevant to this area   
  • Support the development of academic research on this issue in order to inform evidence-based policy-making      
  • Help identify gaps and support key actions for change for children and families affected by imprisonment  

We were delighted to welcome Rachel Brett (Vice President, Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE)) to speak about the role of COPE and the advantages of a network organisation. Drawing on decades of experience of advocacy in the area of familial imprisonment, Rachel outlined key opportunities for advocacy, particularly at an international human rights level. You can watch a recording of Ms Brett's presentation on Youtube below.

IPRT's Michelle Martyn outlined the goals for the project, building on existing work in the area - including IPRT's Picking Up the Pieces report and a previous collaboration between IPRT and UCC, Principles of Action for Children with a Parent in Prison. Michelle also detailed the opportunities that arise during the lifetime of the network to influence strategic policy change.

With thanks to Dr Fiona Donson (School of Law, UCC) for her excellent Chairing of the meeting. Watch this space!


Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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