Imprisoned Dads Give Special Gift To Children

Imprisoned dads at Hydebank Wood College have put together special packages to be delivered to their children in time for Christmas.

Hydebank Wood in Belfast is a young offender's institution with inmates between the age of 18 and 21. Dads at the facility have made personal recordings of bible stories and an accompanying illustrated book for their children at home.

The gifts will be sent in a Christmas toy parcel along with a food hamper for the families of serving prisoners.

Prison Fellowship, a Christian ministry group, will this year deliver 435 food hampers and 539 toy parcels to prisoners' families across Northern Ireland during the festive season. Each prisoner also receives a Christmas card from the group.

Ronnie Armour, Director General of the Prison Service said: "I want to pay tribute to the work of the Prison Fellowship who work all year round across our three prisons. We greatly appreciate the work they do to support people in our care and their families and this work at Hydebank is another example of the difference they are making."

Tom Ferguson, Deputy Governor of Hydebank Wood College, stressed the importance of family relationships for prisoners, especially during the festive season. He said: "Christmas is a special time of year for families and with the help of Prison Fellowship we are able to support those in our care who are not able to share that time together.

"The Northern Ireland Prison Service recognises the importance of positive family connections and actively supports family contact where possible and appropriate. By focusing on children, who are often significantly affected by parental imprisonment, and encouraging them to move away from re-offending, we know positive changes can ultimately lead to better lives."

Joanne Reid, Prison Fellowship worker, added: "In the run up to Christmas, dads in Hydebank Wood College have been invited to record stories for their kids which are burnt to a CD, and along with the storybook, put in toy parcels which we deliver to prisoners' families every year.

"It's just a very special present for children to hear their dad read them a story on Christmas Day."

Joanne added: "Our 'Christmas Hope' project is very important as it strengthens family links and maintains connections with children as well as helping to build confidence among dads."


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