Sussex Prisoners' Families
Sussex Prisoners' Families: 01273 499843
Prisoners’ Families Helpline: 0808 808 2003

This page holds useful booklets to support families with someone facing arrest, court or prison.

Coming Home – Life after Prison

Leaving prison is an exciting time but slotting back into family life can be hard. People will have changed, children will have grown and everyone has learned to live in a different way. Without preparation, misunderstandings and resentments can occur.

This guide was written after interviewing former prisoners and their families and contains tips on how to cope.


You can download a copy here or order a copy by emailing


Coming Home – a guide for families of people on probation

 The rules and regulations surrounding people when they leave prison can be baffling.

This guide helps families understand the role of probation and how they can work effectively with probation staff to help reduce reoffending. You can download a copy here or order a copy by emailing


Life on the Inside

Helping children and young people understand what life is like for a loved-one in prison.

This innovative and much-needed book is for children and young people with a loved-one in prison. Written by dads in prison, it explains in realistic yet reassuring terms what day to day life and features full colour photographs of details such as cells, the library, education and work.

This book is intended to be used for adults and young people to look at together in case any questions arise.

Please download here or to order a paper copy, please order here.


How to Support Prisoners’ Children – information for school staff 

Our new booklet explains the issues facing prisoners’ families and gives some ideas on how to support them better at school. It is mainly aimed at Key stages 1-2  Read it here.  Or order a free copy here 


Buy Our DoodleCards

DoodleCards have been specially designed to help children stay connected with a loved one during a separation. They help divided families to share ideas, spark memories and dream about the future. Families can complete the captivating ‘doodle starters’ however they choose then pop them in the post, providing a fun, visual way of keeping in touch. Each pack contains ten individually designed A5 postcards by acclaimed children’s illustrator Guy Parker-Rees.

1 pack of DoodleCards costs £5
Please order here or email with your details for delivery and payment. 


Tips for working with young people

Tips for professionals working with young people. We asked young people what they wanted the professionals around us to do. Read their tips here

You can contact us on 01273 499843 for more information. 


How have children with a parent in prison been affected by Covid-19?

1000s of children have not seen their parents for a year due to the pandemic. This report by Doctor Shona Minson explores how they have been affected.



Telling the Children

Should I tell the children?

This is a tough decision and it is your choice. But our experience tells us that children cope better if they know the truth.


But won’t the truth upset them? 

Children will usually know that something is wrong. Not telling them the truth could make them feel more insecure and anxious. It could also make them feel they can’t trust adults around them.


What are the advantages of telling them?
Telling children the truth means that they can ask questions about what prison is like and talk about other things that are bothering them. 

If they can’t speak openly and honestly, it’s hard for them to process their feelings and they may feel more troubled.

Social media means that news can spread very quickly and your children may find out from someone else. 


How should I talk to children?

  • Find a time that is quiet when you are feeling calm and when they will have plenty of time to ask questions. 
  • Talk somewhere familiar where they feel safe
  • Sometimes it’s easier to talk when you are doing something together like colouring in or drawing. 
  • Be guided by them. If they seem to have stopped listening or don’t want to hear anymore – don’t force the issue. 


What should I tell them?

It very much depends on the age of the child and the type of offence. But here’s some ideas:

  • Use simple, age appropriate language that they understand
  • Explain that their parent or loved-one has made a mistake and done something wrong.
  • Explain that they have had to go away for a while to a prison 
  • You could say that a prison is where grown ups go when they have done something wrong.
  • Tell them that doing something bad doesn’t mean you are a bad person. 
  • Let them know that there is no particular way they should feel. 
  • Don’t go into inappropriate detail – they don’t need to know every detail of the crime.
  • Reassure them that the person in prison still loves them
  • Reassure them that they are safe. 

Want to know more?

Contact one of our friendly outreach team on 01273 499843 who will help you talk through these issues.

Should I tell the children about prison?

This is a tough call but in our experience, children in the long run benefit from being told the truth. Watch our video for some ideas on how to do this or click on the box below for more tips.

You can contact us on 01273 499843 for more information. 



Parents in Prison 

This web page for older children has some useful tips and videos for young people with a parent in prison.


You can view it here


Sesame Street

This excellent set of resources, worksheets and videos is based on the popular children’s television series. It is American so not all the details will be relevant but the emotional issues will be the same.

You can view it here 



This booklet for 4 – 11 year olds, tells the story of a young brother and sister whose father is in prison


You can view it here