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Project allows Norwich prisoners to read to their children

PUBLISHED: 11:00 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:24 21 March 2019

Children can listen to stories read by their fathers. Picture posed by model.  Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Children can listen to stories read by their fathers. Picture posed by model. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Gewoldi

The Spurgeons Children’s Charity wins an award for its work with prisoners in Norfolk.

“I miss my Daddy. When I feel lonely, I listen to my cd and hearing his voice makes me feel better.”

Even children with dads in prison can share a bedtime story with them, thanks to a Norwich project which has just won an award.

Prisoners are recorded reading stories for their children, which are then given to each child, along with a copy of the book.

Over the past four years staff and volunteers from Spurgeons Children’s Charity have made more than 300 recordings with dads at Norwich Prison.

One of the Norwich dads taking part has two daughters, one aged five and the other a baby of just seven months. The five-year-old treasures a recording of her dad reading The Gruffalo’s Child, by Julia Donaldson. “It makes her very happy, listening to his storybook. She often talks back to him when it’s playing, telling him she loves and misses him,” said her mum. “I think it’s a great comfort to her and helps her to still feel close to him. He regularly used to read to her at betimes so it’s really good that she can still listen to him whenever she wants.”

Every recording has music and sound effects added by another charity, StoryBook Dads – which has highlighted the achievement of the people working on the Norwich project.

Sharon Berry of Storybook Dads said: “It can be quite difficult to run this scheme in prisons because of security and regime restrictions and each establishment may have its own set of challenges. Yet HMP Norwich has been able to successfully deliver Storybook Dads for many years and that means a lot of children’s lives have been made happier because of it.”

One of the prisoners who has taken part said: “Making a recording is very important to me because it means I can still have some connection with my children while I am serving a prison sentence. I used to read to them all the time. I can still sort of be there for the children.”

Diane Sparkes of Spurgeons said the project shows a different, more caring side of many of the men. “Seeing a dad come to life reading something like You and Me Little Bear, then get quite emotional over it has been a real eye opener for me,” she said.

StoryBook Dads works in around 100 prisons, including Norwich, Wayland near Watton, and Bure near Coltishall, helping more than 5,000 prisoners read bedtime stories to their children every year.


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