Marsh Volunteer of the Year Award for Work with Prisoner's Children
This Award recognises individuals, groups or volunteer-led projects working to provide support to, and raise awareness of issues faced by, children with a parent in prison.
This Award was first run in 2016 and recognised the efforts of Barnardo’s volunteers working with Children at Risk as a result of parental imprisonment. However in future we will also be recognising volunteers external to Barnardo’s, in order to celebrate the valuable work taking place across the wider sector.”
The 2016 winners are Family Play Support Team Volunteers - Bonnie Soroke and Anne Dawson
Until two years ago, the Parenting Matters Team at HMP Maghaberry did not involve volunteers, and there was some debate as to whether including volunteers in a prison environment would work. However, Bonnie and Anne have proved that it does.
Anne and Bonnie work together at Family Visit events at the prison, supporting project staff in providing good quality visits between children and their imprisoned parent on one Saturday per month. The environment they work in is challenging and has many restrictions meaning that their role requires flexibility and creativity, especially since each family they interact with is unique and they cannot have a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
The overall purpose of the visits is to create a space for families to interact with one another in a ‘normal’ way, something which some families find easier than others. Anne and Bonnie’s role is to observe where their intervention may be needed and to offer support when necessary in a way that does not make the parents feel inadequate.
During Volunteers’ Week, Anne and Bonnie agreed to go to the Regional Office and speak to an audience, including senior management, about their experiences to raise awareness about the value of volunteers.
Pictured: Anne Dawson receiving her Award from Nick Carter (MCT Trustee), Amir Khan (Celebrity Ambassador for Barnardo's) and Javed Khan (Barnardo's CEO)