When Laura’s partner was jailed just before Christmas last year, her world was turned upside down.

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Suddenly left to support the family alone, she also had to explain to her two young sons where their father had gone.

“Those first few weeks just flew by in a blur,” says the 30-year-old.

“I had to throw myself into looking after the kids – ‘normality, normality’ was what I kept saying to myself. If I didn’t have them I don’t know what I would have done.

“I couldn’t picture myself coming to visit him in prison. I couldn’t face it at first, let along think about bringing the kids.”

When they finally all came together, Laura decided against telling her children the truth of where they were going, or why.

“I tell them we are going to visit dad at his work. They are still young enough not to know or to ask questions, because they just want to play with their dad,” she says.

Discovering Ormiston’s family visitors’ centre and its services at HMP Norwich has also helped Laura to cope, though nothing can remove the pain of having a loved one in prison. “It’s very difficult for him every time we visit: he has tears in his eyes every time we go away. But Ormiston helps to make a horrible situation a little bit more bearable,” she adds.

Laura’s children look forward their weekly visits and the chance to play, meaning that what could be a sad reminder of their lost family life becomes something they all enjoy.

“It’s so nice for us all to get together,” says Laura. “When we are all in the room together, you can sometimes forget about where you are... Then reality kicks in again.”

Laura’s partner has also recorded a CD through the Storybook Dads scheme, and taken part in the You and Your Child parenting skills programme.

“We did the CD as a surprise for the boys, and they loved it. Now while I’m clearing up in the kitchen, he can be reading them a bedtime story upstairs.”

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