Marsh Media Award - Reducing Stigma for Prisoners’ Families

This Award is run in partnership with Action for Prisoners’ Families and recognises an individual or group who has worked through the medium of media to reduce the stigma that the children, families and partners of prisoners face.

Media is a powerful medium through which public opinion can be informed, challenged and shaped. The Award recognises work which uses media to raise awareness on the implications of having a family member or partner in prison, fighting against the stigma that this generates amongst public opinion.

Pictured above is one of the many visit halls, where volunteers work alongside staff to provide a welcome environment to prisoners' families. Photo attributed to Action for Prisoners Families

The 2013 winners are Ruth Kelly for 'Prison Dads' and Elliot Richards from 'Fixers'

Ruth Kelly for 'Prison Dads'

Ruth Kelly directed and produced ‘Prison Dads’, a documentary that followed young fathers in Glen Parva Young Offenders’ Institution, in Leicester, their children and their children’s mothers for six months. The programme was broadcast five times on BBC Three, once in the evening and four further times late at night, a good time to catch a young audience.

The programme showed that behind each young father in prison is a string of other people whose lives have changed dramatically. With every prison sentence handed out to a young father, a hidden sentence is also bestowed on young mothers and their babies, who are left to fend for themselves. The film showed their challenges of bringing their children into prison to face sniffer dogs and nappy searches and the struggle involved in keeping these very young new families together. It showed the courage and determination of some of these young parents in bringing up their babies in the most extreme and challenging circumstances.

The programme was broadcast five times on BBC Three, once in the evening and four further times late at night, a good time to catch a young audience. It showed the prisoners and their families as real, raising awareness on the issues they were faced with and challenging conceptions that prisoners’ families deserve to suffer because of the actions of their relatives who are in prison.

Elliot Richards from 'Fixers'

Elliot is a young person with a brother in prison. Seeing that he and his family faced stigma from their local community because of this, Elliot worked in collaboration with the youth charity Fixers to create an audio CD which would raise awareness about the preconceptions which prisoners’ families are faced with.

The CD contains stories and experiences from ex-offenders and families who have a relation inside prison with an aim to allowing offenders and families to see the effects crime has. The aim is to encourage everyone (offenders, professionals and their families) to consider the impact of criminal behaviour on family members. To date, the resource has been used in Reading Prison, by the Southampton Youth Offenders Team and has been recognised by the Barnardo’s Information Hub as an effective resource which should be used by sector professionals.

Elliot's project was part of a news story which aired on ITV News Meridian in January 2013, going out to approximately 340,000 viewers.

More information on Elliot's project can be found at -


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Previous Winners:

2012 The writers of 'Prisoners' Wives'