Children run towards the camera

Children Heard and Seen logoChildren Heard and Seen works to mitigate the effects of parental imprisonment on children, and consequently to reduce the likelihood of generational offending, mental health issues and family breakdown.

Breaking the cycle of offending

Sixty-five per cent of boys with an imprisoned parent will go on to be offenders themselves – boys like Daniel, who since his father went to prison had been playing truant and behaving in an anti-social way, but who also struggled with his self-esteem, finding it difficult to maintain friendships and becoming increasingly isolated. The charity’s project workers give children a voice through writing, arts and one-to-one support. Since working with Children Heard and Seen, Daniel is now thriving at school, recently coming top of his class in end of term reports.

Assisting with gradual expansion of services

In January 2017 OCF made a grant of £4,880 to target the Grimsbury and Ruscote areas of Banbury, which are among the 20% most deprived areas nationally. A brand-new activity group was created, with 21 new children reached and 10 new volunteers trained. This in-depth training included one-to-one mentoring and formal supervision to ensure they were fully equipped to become long-term, committed volunteers.

The charity’s founder Sarah Burrows says of the grant: “Several of the participants expressed that they have benefited in terms of being able to be honest, and be a child. A common theme was that children felt they had to be the grown up, and could not discuss how they were feeling through fear of upsetting their full-time carer. To address this, we used music and film as a forum for expression.”

Lessons for OCF

OCF is keen to support projects like Children Heard and Seen where research-based evidence shows that targeting support to a small number of key beneficiaries will make a big impact on a social problem. With limited resources, prioritising these high-impact initiatives provides excellent value for our donors and funding partners.

“Several of the participants expressed that they have benefited in terms of being able to be honest, and be a child.

Sarah Burrows, Director, Children Heard and Seen

At a glance


Charity that gives a voice to children of prisoners, preventing them going on to become offenders themselves

Social themes


Family breakdown

Mental health in children


Children of prisoners made to feel valued and supported

Better relationships between parents in prison and their children, helping them to build a better life on release