1. Over the last year during lockdown, running has been keeping me going and I've somehow got to the point now where I feel like I can run a half marathon distance. In normal times I would probably enter a race to do this and do some fundraising for it, but as it is, I'm just going to run the distance on my own (or maybe with Adam for company!).

    I heard about Storybook Dads through my work at Barnardo's. Barnardo's works in prisons in the Midlands, supporting families of prisoners, particularly when children are visiting their parent in prison. This can be a very difficult experience for anyone, let alone a child. Having a parent in prison can be seen as a 'hidden sentence'. Every year in the UK, 200,000 children experience the imprisonment of a parent. It often leads to feelings of shame, guilt and isolation resulting in failure at school. These children are 3 times more prone to mental health problems than their peers. Keeping in contact can be difficult from behind bars; prisoners may be held long distances from their families. Those that maintain contact are up to 6 times less likely to re-offend.

    During Covid, this has been particularly hard. Contact has been minimal - even virtually - prisoners cannot just freely speak to their child over the phone or video call. Many prisoners have been held in their cells for up to 23 hours a day.

    Storybook Dads help families to reconnect through storytelling. They help parents in prison to record bedtime stories and messages for their children on CD or DVD for their child to watch from home. These story discs show the children they are loved and missed. It helps prisoners to feel valued as parents and gives them the opportunity to have a positive impact on their children’s lives.

    I know how much my own little girl (nearly 2 years old!) loves reading books, she wants us to read to her all the time, it is a joy (for us as well as her!) and also a huge comfort - so this way of helping children keep in touch with their parent in prison really spoke to me. And I've heard great things about what they are doing from my colleagues who work in prisons.

    I'm planning to do the half marathon on the last weekend in March. If you're in a position to, please help me to help Storybook Dads continue their work to support families to stay connected.
Alice Laycock