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In 2016, Christmas came early …

By Sharon Berry, Director at Storybook Dads

Just before Christmas, our charity was named Organisation of the Year at the 2016 CJA Awards. Storybook Dads lets dads, and mums, in prison record stories which can be played to their children.

It was a fantastic boost to win and the £4,000 prize is helping us to carry on doing what we do in several different directions. The lads and the staff in the HMP Channings Wood editing suite were so chuffed when they found out. They take so much pride in their work so it means the world to them to have their hard work acknowledged.

Now, not only are we editing more stories but we’ve run our first ‘Me and My Mum Workshop’ in a women’s prison and squeezed in an additional ‘Family First’ course for those offenders soon to be released.

In December alone our editing team at Channing’s Wood – consisting of 18 prisoners, six part time staff and three volunteers – produced a whopping 551 story discs, so we made a lot of children very happy on Christmas morning.

Last month’s ‘Me and My Mum’ workshop in HMP Styal in Manchester was a huge success with great feedback from the women involved and over 20 paper-based gifts created. It’s something we very much hope to roll out elsewhere in the future.

‘Family First’ is open to those men soon to be released from Devon’s HMP Channings Wood. We aim to help them readjust back into family life and consider the impact their absence has had on all members of the family.

We also continue to receive some lovely feedback from those who have used our CD and DVD services. One recent user said: ‘I cannot praise highly enough the staff and services of Storybook Dads. It provides a vital visual communication aid between me and my disabled son. Because of his disabilities, visiting is difficult so the DVDs he receives bring him great joy.’

We were hugely happy to receive this amazing award and for the support and recognition it entails. The CJA’s tireless work in so many areas of social policy creates meaningful positive change and everyone should applaud their efforts.