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Relationships Policy

My name is Charlie Ryder and I am an artist, puppeteer, ex-prisoner and outreach worker at Wormwood Scrubs Community Chaplaincy.

I'm going to share some experiences of my own journey and how through creativity and healing I've found a road of forgiveness which has brought me in contact with some inspiring and courageous people whose stories have brought about great transformation in others. Volunteering at a holiday home for people with severe disabilities, I met a retired police officer who had been attacked on duty and which had left her paralysed. She told me that ‘she had joined the police to help people’ and I asked her if she hated the person who had injured her. She replied, ‘No, because there is too much hate in the world’.

Growing up with an alcoholic father has been extremely difficult. The constant arguments and verbal abuse brought a lot of emotional and physical pain. It was at college that a counsellor introduced me to Alateen, a 12-step fellowship for young people whose lives have been affected by alcoholism in a family member. There I found unconditional love and a rich ground for growth. Through listening to others share their experiences, I learnt a lot about alcoholism as a family disease. A few years later I went to study in Scotland. At the height of a nervous breakdown I was involved in a violent riot when I was protesting against racism.

A few months later I was featured on Crime Monthly (a programme which appealed for some of Britain’s most wanted criminals) and I was arrested the next morning.

After waiting nearly two years I was sent to prison for 16 months. While incarcerated, I kept a scrapbook where I could record my journey using letters, poems, short stories and artwork. This is one of those poems that really captured my prison experience by Judge Dennis Challeen, Supreme Court USA:

We want them to have self worth. So we destroy their self worth 
To be responsible. So we take away all responsibility 
To be part of our community. So we isolate them from the community 
To be positive and constructive. So we degrade them and make them useless 
To be non violent so we put them where there Is violence all around 
To be kind and loving people. So we subject them to hatred and cruelty 
To quit being tough guys. So we put them where the tough guy is respected 
To quit hanging around losers. So we put all the losers under one roof 
To quit exploiting us. So we put them where they exploit each other 
We want them to take control of their own lives, own their own problems and quit being parasites
So we make them totally dependent on us.

On my release from prison I went back to Al-Anon, and by applying the 12 steps to my life I have grown mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I am grateful to Al-anon for giving me a healthy programme to live by and enjoy. Al-Anon gave me a space to heal and gave me the courage to develop my story into a one-man play using puppets, masks, dance, poetry and silence. My dad is still drinking, but through the programme I’m learning to forgive him.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story.

Published in Relationships Policy

Risk and protective factors in the resettlement of imprisoned fathers with their families by the Ormiston Children and Families Trust and the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge is a recent study in the UK and Europe which investigates risk and protective factors in the resettlement of imprisoned fathers and their families. The research aims to assist the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and third sector organisations working to support families to develop more effective interventions for imprisoned fathers, their (ex)partners and their children.






Published in Relationships Policy

To those looking for non punitive alternatives to the standard criminal justice penalties - prison, community sentence, fine - restorative justice carries a lot of appeal. It supposedly enables both victim and offender to reflect on the impact of a crime, for the victim to gain redress and for both to achieve a certain degree of 'closure'. But while talking and resolution might be preferable to punishment and vengeance, is restorative justice the answer?

Published in Relationships Policy

Human relationships are complex; often fraught and conflictual; sometimes violent and traumatic. How we live our lives in the here and now and how we relate to those around us is also deeply influenced by our past and present experiences. As experts in our own lives we all know this to be true. So why is it that the public discussion of conflict, violence and trauma  - in the media, politics and elsewhere - all too often seems to trivialise these difficult and challenging issues?

Published in Relationships Policy

Evaluation of the Family Pathfinders’ Programme, which pilots new ways of multi-agency working to support families with complex problems such as poverty, domestic abuse, poor mental health and substance misuse. The emerging findings of this programme provide practical examples of how local authorities can restructure service provision and develop new new working practices in response to the challenge of improving outcomes for these families.

Published in Relationships Policy

The research explores the views and perspectives of family members of substance users on the relationship between alcohol, drugs and domestic abuse. It highlights the need for support and resources of family members and makes recommendations for policy and practice.

Published in Relationships Policy

This research examines the influence of family during childhood in forming future drinking habits and explores how different economic circumstances, parenting styles and parents’ drinking behaviours influence how children view and understand alcohol. The report provides a children’s perspective on exposure to family drinking and identifies implications for policy and practice, including the need for providing parental guidance and ways to do so.

Published in Relationships Policy

Paper summarising the evidence from research about domestic violence perpetrator programmes, which are multi-agencies interventions aimed at providing a 'safe and meaningful' opportunity for domestic violence perpetrators to stop being violent. This briefing examines and assesses the existing evidence of the effectiveness of both criminal justice based programmes (usually run by probation or prison staff) as well as community based programmes.

Published in Relationships Policy

Research looking at the Families First project, a multi-agency support service which provides advice, social work intervention and parenting support for adults and families with substance use issues. The project aims at providing intensive short-term support so that children of problem drug users on the verge of being removed from the family are safely able to stay with their parents (or other relatives). The research shows short term successes (at 12-month follow up), although the longer term effect is not known and would require further study.

Published in Relationships Policy

This research shows the widespread disadvantage and unstable lives endured by children and young people serving time in custody. It found that more than a quarter had been in care, 20% had self-harmed, 11% had attempted suicide, and 12% had been bereaved, losing either a parent or sibling. More than half came from deprived backgrounds and a similar proportion had run away from home at some point. It also found that around three-quarters had absent fathers, while a third had experienced their mother's absence.

Published in Relationships Policy
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