A Christian children's charity is helping strengthen the bond between imprisoned fathers and their children over the Christmas season.
Spurgeons says the pandemic has meant hundreds of thousands of children across the country won't get to see their fathers during the festive season.
The charity is helping them to deliver presents in hopes make up for limited or cancelled monthly visits.
“This personal and loving act, complete with a handwritten message, will hopefully create a treasured memory,” Spurgeons said.
“We’re working hard to maintain family contact through supporting supervised video calls and via more creative solutions, such as providing letter-writing packs and encouraging fathers to record bedtime stories.”
According to a recent Crest Advisory report, 312,000 children in the UK who have a parent in prison won’t be able to see them this Christmas.
Meanwhile, studies show 65 per cent of boys with a convicted parent go on to offend themselves and children of prisoners are three times more likely to develop behavioural problems.
Spurgeons says without making an effort to connect children with their imprisoned parents, they can become “invisible victims of crime”.
Paul Ringer, deputy chief executive of Spurgeons said: “We know that Christmas can be a difficult and emotional time for families torn apart by incarceration - the pandemic will make it tougher.
“There is a real risk to the future of these vulnerable children – research shows that many prisoners have themselves had a problematic upbringing, growing up in situations of domestic violence, abuse, school exclusion, or in care. Having a close family member serving time in prison is recognised as being an adverse childhood experience which significantly increases a child’s exposure to possible trauma.
“While we’re not trying to diminish the necessary part that prisons play in public protection and punishment – we are focused on rehabilitation and reform, helping fathers keep or form strong, lasting and positive ties with their children so that they aren’t also victims of their fathers crime, but instead feel supported, loved and are ultimately less likely to fall into the trap of crime."
Spurgeons currently operates in twelve prisons across the UK, running the visitors’ centres and facilitating play for children during visits. They also organise family days for more trusted prisoners, which provide as near as normal experience possible for children in a prison environment.