Pact Cymru received a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund for its Visiting Mum service which helps children living in south Wales keep in touch with their mothers serving time at HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire. Here Visiting Mum spokeswoman Charlotte Parsons explains how the project was crucial in maintaining the bond between a woman and her son.
“When Molly met a man the relationship was good, until she became pregnant with their baby at the age of 17. Her partner became moody and abusive, saying that he felt trapped. She stayed with him and they lived together in her flat, but the relationship got worse, he became physically and mentally abusive and he was extremely jealous. Molly gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in October 2011 and stayed with the father until her son was a year old.
When their son was a year old Molly discovered that her partner was seeing another girl and had been all through her pregnancy. Molly went to a house party one evening and the girl was there. They both went back to Molly’s flat after the party and ended up having a fight and after pressing charges, Molly was bailed for 18 months. While on bail Molly continued to care for her son and tried to live life normally, although it was difficult with the charges hanging over her. Molly’s ex partner continued to harass her and Molly and the baby were referred to Women’s Aid and lived in a Hostel for their own safety.
In June 2014 Molly was sentenced to six years for GBH. Her release date is June 2017.
I met her the day after she came in to custody and she was devastated! The social worker had called me and said her son was fine and with Molly’s mum. Molly was enormously grateful to her mum and she supported her going to court and getting a residency order for her son.
Molly was desperate to have visits from her mum and son, but it was several months until she had a visit, this went really well and was a positive experience for the family. When her son came in to the visits hall, he ran up to her and said ‘mammy, mammy, I’ve found you, I’ve been looking for you everywhere!’ I spoke to Molly about the Visiting Mum project at EWP and she was really interested. I called her mum and she said that it would really help having transport to the prison, but also to have the support of a volunteer for her and her grandson.
When we had the first ever Visiting Mum it was fantastic. The whole family had a good quality visit, which was relaxed and completely centred on what Molly and her son wanted to do. Molly said afterwards that it was the best visit she had ever had with him. These visits have continued and take place at least once a month. These are now the only visits that the family have together, so they are really precious.
The relationship between the volunteer and the family is really special and they are a perfect match. Molly feels she has kept her bond with her son and still feels like a mum. She misses putting him to bed and taking him to nursery, but is so grateful to her mum for being so supportive. Molly plans to care for her son once released and this is also the wish of her mum as well. Having these regular visits will make the transition back in to her sons life, much easier and Molly is feeling positive about the future.”