Novus learners’ children were able to see with their own eyes the work that their fathers do as part of their studies at HMP Buckley Hall in Rochdale, during a Family Day event at the prison.
A tour of the Education facilities in the establishment gave the children, who were accompanied by their mothers and grandparents, the opportunity to learn about and participate in the same classes as their dads, including Art, Horticulture, Joinery and Functional Skills.
The men joined their families in taking part in practical tasks which offered a fascinating insight into the learning journeys taking place at HMP Buckley Hall. They planted bulbs, painted pictures and made wooden keep-sakes in the workshop, giving the families a memento of a special day.
As they made their way around the Education department, one learner revealed that it was the first time he had been able to walk hand-in-hand with his toddler son, who was just a baby when his father started his sentence.
“You have no idea what this means to me,” he said. “I feel like a new man.”
The hard work learners put in before the event also came to fruition on the day, having created activities tailored to their families and put them into practise when their loved ones arrived in the morning.
This gave the men a feeling of taking ownership and being organised beforehand, before seeing the positive outcome during the event.
The day was rounded off with an exciting performance by local theatre company Horse and Bamboo, offering a traditional family interaction experience, using the arts. Bringing the ‘Theatre for One’ programme into the prison, it encourages shared moments through family participation and provides new communication opportunities away from the limited conversations that take place during normal visits.
Rochdale Library staff also attended the event, with everyone putting their imaginations to good use in a storytime special.
Novus worked closely with the prison to tailor the family event to the establishment. The Governor and prison staff believed in the idea and helped throughout the process to bring it to fruition.
Novus tutor Claire Holland worked behind the scenes to make sure every element of the event worked for the learners and their families, with support from Sarah Hartley, Novus Operational Lead for Families.
Sarah said: “This event showcased learning and provided a chance for family members to enjoy educational activities together in fun and dynamic ways, fostering a connection with education, whilst retaining family ties.
“Creating activities in the run-up to the event gave learners responsibility for responding to their families’ needs and plan for them accordingly.
“The tour of the Education facilities gave families a way of seeing where their loved ones work, which gives them reassurance that the men are working well in a secure setting. It offers them a greater input into their journey.
“The families loved the ‘Carousel of Activities’ which saw them go round exploring and enjoying learning together. Showcasing the department in this way also gave Novus colleagues a chance to demonstrate their passion for teaching and learning.”
The event closed with the prison Governor presenting certificate to learners, acknowledging the efforts they made in shaping the Family Day.