A PROGRAMME at Winchester Prison that helps children and families affected by imprisonment has received a major funding boost.

Invisible Walls, run by Spurgeons Children’s Charity, supports fathers to improve their parenting skills and build and maintain healthy relationships with their children and families whilst in prison and also after release.

The programme has been awarded more than £450,000 by The National Lottery Community Fund to continue its work over the next three years, this follows previous support given by the Fund from 2016-19.

Further recognition of the programme’s excellence has also come from the Maurice & Hilda Laing Charitable Trust, which has announced it will also support Invisible Walls for the next three years, with a grant of £10,000 per year.

Spurgeons deputy chief executive Paul Ringer is delighted with the new funding awards and said: “This is a tremendous vote of confidence in Invisible Walls’ track record in strengthening family relationships, of giving hope to those families who are living with imprisonment and reducing the reoffending rates of fathers on release.

“There’s growing evidence that family support and maintaining family ties is not only important for the well-being of prisoners and their families but can also help prisoners’ reintegration into the community following release.”

The programme has also got the backing the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissionerwho is currently funding the Spurgeons team to be trained to recognise the signs of adverse childhood experiences and how offenders can recover.

Launched in 2011, Invisible Walls has won praise from Lord Farmer, whose 2017 Ministry of Justice Review stressed the importance of strengthening prisoners’ family ties in the prevention of reoffending and intergenerational crime.

In a letter of support written last year, he described HMP Winchester as “a centre of excellence” in engaging the local community in rehabilitation work and highlighted Invisible Walls as a “beacon of good practice,” describing its work in maintaining men’s sense of responsibility towards their families as “transformational”.