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  • Writer's pictureAnita Mehay

Welcome to the Fathers Together study: our origin story

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

I am one of the leads of this study and I was recently asked about the 'origin story' of the Fathers Together study. This got me thinking, as I am usually only asked about the study's aims, objectives, plans etc. - but rarely how our study come about in the first place.

A good place to start is always at the beginning, so I thought our first blog would start just there.

A long time in the making ...

Like all good origin stories, this too has been a long time in the making. The original focus on young fathers in prison came from various pieces of early work many of the team had been involved in: from supporting a 'Health Champion' scheme in a Young Offenders Institution to providing educational modules for young people in an adult prison and on to developing a programme for families and juvenile boys in prison.

We started to have critical discussions which brought together our thoughts and insights. Why is there (still) persistently higher rates of young men from Black and other minoritised groups in prison? What was happening to support them? How are the cultural needs of minoritised families being met? Why was there little progress in tackling intergenerational impacts of imprisonment?

The Race Equality Foundation (as well as other third sector organisations) had delivered some programmes for people in prison (and their families) - but there seemed a huge amount of challenges and barriers to get these off the ground and sustain them over time. How can we do good family work within the structures and cultures of prison regimes, resources, commissioning frameworks, and health and justice boundaries?

Speaking to those with expertise

All big questions. So we spoke to others with expertise - those who have been in prison or have a family member in prison, third sector organisations, and staff and researchers. They told us what mattered, what information and evidence would help, and how we could may be go about developing a study which could have real-world relevance.

We developed a research proposal in early 2019 and it took us about a year or so to get funding approved. But little did we know a pandemic was looming - which delayed our plans to start in 2020. In that time, our research became even more important as many families impacted by imprisonment felt the effects of COVID-19 more than many. So we hit the roading running when we could and the study officially started in April 2022. We are now working with a number of prisons across England and you can read all about our plans on this website.

Sequels and next steps

We want to achieve a lot in our two-years of funding. And our plans go beyond what we've outlined already in this website - this is just the first stage which we have secured funding for. We've already had a great response from people in prison, their families and staff working in prisons. We believe our study is addressing important gaps in research and practice and so we plan to apply for further funding to continue our work beyond the two-years. Watch this space!

Do come back to our website where we'll hope to post regular updates. We would be happy to hear from anyone interested in our study so do get in touch! You can follow us on the usual socials - Twitter, LinkedIn, and Insta.



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