Members with family in prison

Provide support to a young member who has family in prison

Having a family member in prison may affect a child’s behaviour, mood or access to resources

If a member has family in prison, they may be going through a very difficult time of uncertainty and change.

Guiding can give them a space where they can be themselves, away from any external family circumstances. It gives them the opportunity to build skills, friendships and develop networks of support.

Whatever the conditions surrounding the imprisonment, it's important to remember that this is not a reflection on the child in your unit. They may not know that their family member is in prison. They may also not be aware of the circumstances that led to the imprisonment, and certainly will not have been able to influence their situation at home.

If you find out that a family member of a young member is in prison, you must not pass on this information without the family’s permission.

Remember, if you hear about a child’s family member being sent to prison through another person or news coverage, be careful not to make assumptions or jump to conclusions. This could affect how the child is treated in guiding.

Including members with family in prison

Manage challenging behaviour 

A child who has a close family member in prison may be experiencing a number of conflicting emotions. They may be struggling to understand that a person they love could do something bad. This may lead to challenging behaviour within unit meetings. Our guiding conversation has more information on challenging behaviour in unit meetings

Be sensitive around celebration days

These may be difficult for a child who has a close family member in prison. Consider how this might affect activities that you are planning for example, making Fathers’ Day cards or Christmas gifts for parents.

Learn how to respond to her needs 

As a Leader you may notice changes in a young member's behaviour or she may become withdrawn. MindEd - a free educational resource on children and young people's mental health - has a pathway for Girlguiding that will help you respond to young members' individual needs.

Be flexible 

A child or young person may have difficulties attending regular meetings due to factors outside of their control. They may also have caring commitments. See our guidance on including carers for information on how to make guiding more accessible.

Support those in care 

If a child has a parent in prison, they may be taken into care or have to move home. See our guidance on supporting children in care for more information.

Financial support 

A child or young person with a close family member in prison may have difficulty paying for subscriptions, uniform or event tickets, so follow our guidance on supporting members from low income backgrounds.

Your role as a trusted adult

A child with a family member in prison may wish to talk to you as an adult that they trust and have regular contact with. They may also choose to speak with any Young Leaders in your unit, so make sure that you are available to support Young Leaders too.

This is an important responsibility, so if a girl turns to you for advice or support, make time to listen. If you are in the middle of a group activity, tell her that you will carry on your conversation after the activity has ended. Make sure that you follow through with this and are consistent. Be honest and do your best to answer any questions that a girl might have - as long as it's appropriate for you to do so.

See our full guidance on safeguarding members.

Where to get support

  • Barnardo’s - this children's charity has information and guidance on supporting children affected by parental imprisonment.
  • Action for Prisoners’ Families - promotes the just treatment of prisoners’ families by the prison system and society across the UK.

Get advice on inclusion

Contact the Inclusion team at Girlguiding HQ for more information about including all girls and volunteers in guiding.