A Brief Summary of Our Priorities
We are committed to developing a long-term plan based on extensive research and development carried out since we were founded in 1999. In this plan we:
- Work with all generations (and children yet unborn) to break the cycle of involvement in crime and subsequent imprisonment.
- Utilise a unique and distinctive design, developed largely in house and informed by research, practice and sound theoretical models from a wide variety of sources, to address our unique needs.
- Identify potential that resides in communities and enable it to flower to the fullest degree, utilising healing strategies that yield results that are far-reaching and wide-ranging.
In effecting the above our theory of change undergoes continual development, utilising phenomena that are universal in our emotional and feeling world. We acknowledge their importance for both understanding and describing how we grow and develop. This, in turn, assists us in building solutions to problems that cause a lot of distress not only to families in our focus group but to society in general.
Who is Bedford Row for?
Bedford Row reaches out to families, and in particular children:
- Whose families may have been affected by imprisonment for generations.
- That may present in school etc. as angry, fearful, anxious, aggressive, and/or in crisis.
- Whose development may be impaired by misuse of alcohol and/or drugs in their homes.
- That suffer loss, i.e., are bereaved by tragedy within their family or extended family, perhaps a number of times.
- That may be isolated in their communities and whose vast potential might be wasted on destructive pursuits as they reach their teens.
Why do we do it?
Bedford Row is motivated to do this because:
- Our landmark research Voices of Families Affected by Imprisonment (published in 2008 – but still as relevant today as it ever was) pointed us in the direction of action in this regard (See our Research link to read this).
- We have had significant success in improving the lives of people involved in crime, drugs etc. many of whom have struggled for many years, and we are determined to build on this success.
- We believe that solutions to these very challenging problems will come from people most affected who are passionate, motivated and involved over a significant amount of time.
How do we achieve this?
A wide variety of Support Work is ongoing, reaching out to:
- Senior members of families who are often a fount of wisdom and experience.
- Parents who may have experienced difficult times themselves and are worried about their children and teenagers; to assist them in parenting in a constructive and nurturing way.
- Children and teenagers who are at risk of dropping out or have already dropped out of mainstream supports in society.
- People who struggle with addiction, mental health problems, emotional distress, who may be facing a court appearance, who are currently in prison – or who have been – and are motivated to embrace their responsibilities with respect to sobriety, parenting, family life, employment etc.
Much of our work involves listening, and addressing difficult emotions such as guilt, shame and anger with the long-term aim of working through such emotions so that they do not get in the way of positive experiences in life.
Who Works in Bedford Row?
The Bedford Row Worker or Volunteer, typically is:
- Highly motivated – and wants to do something positive for their family and community.
- Generous spirited, energetic, and likes a bit of hard work!
- Curious, and open to new learning, listening, and observing.
- Committed to creativity, inclusiveness, and boundedness.
And most of all……………….
- Concerned that many initiatives in this area struggle to reach those who are most in need of intervention
If you would like to be involved in this exciting work you can contact us:
“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with new eyes”
Principal Areas of Work
You can find out a lot more about all the areas below by emailing email@example.com and/or having a chat with one of our staff. Much of our work is curtailed at present due to Covid but we still offer extensive support.
- Hospitality at Limerick Prison:
This is where it all began in 1999 – with nothing but a kettle and good will. In non-Covid times we are in attendance in the waiting area of Limerick Prison during visiting times. Our aim is to create and maintain a relaxed and friendly atmosphere while offering refreshments, play materials for children, some reading material and providing information.
- Response to Children’s Needs:
Much research has pointed to how imprisonment in a family has the potential to cause children distress. Working with children is a vital part of the support that we offer families. Much of our effort involves ensuring that children (including infants yet unborn) grow up in a safe and nurturing environment both in their homes and in their communities.
- Re-integration of People Who Have Been in Prison
“You want to go straight, but something inside keeps pulling you back towards the prison gate”. (20-year-old who left prison)
“I was lucky to meet a man that gave me a chance; took me on and trained me. I never looked back”. (Man who spent time in prison).
Bedford Row has always met with people who are and have been in prison as well as their families. This is a major element of the integrated package that we aim to offer children affected by imprisonment – encouraging the member in prison to be responsible in the context of a loving relationship within his/her family. It is great that Limerick Prison can now provide a relaxed environment known as The Sitting Room where (once again, in non-Covid times) families including children can meet their loved one in prison.
- Support and Counselling:
Counselling is available in Bedford Row for people who feel that they will benefit from it, including counselling with couples and other family members. On one day a week a child and adolescent psychotherapist is in attendance. Many children and parents have benefited and are continuing to benefit greatly from this service. We learn a lot from those who we are very privileged to meet in this context.
- Information, Referral, Advocacy:
Some of our work is concerned with advocating on people’s behalf to access services. We are grateful to all the Prisons in Ireland where our queries are invariably met with courtesy and due consideration, and to many other statutory and voluntary agencies that deal with homelessness, social welfare, payments, addiction, child welfare, education and a host of issues that are day-to-day concerns of the focus group.
‘There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally’ (G. K. Chesterton).
- Raising Public Awareness:
There are not that many specialist agencies working with families affected by imprisonment and it is the responsibility of Bedford Row to promote solutions that work well with minimum cost. One of the recommendations in our Holding the Suffering Evaluation/Research (done by Mary Immaculate College) was that we would disseminate information to other agencies about our methods. There is vast potential and talent within our focus group (not to mention high motivation) that can be tapped into to ease the distress that families inevitably feel when a member goes to prison.
And following on from the last paragraph, education in Bedford Row is aimed at having a multiplier effect. Over the past number of years skills have spread out into communities, and similarly, expertise and experience has been generously returned to the Project in spades! We are committed to ensuring that all our educational endeavours are two-way, where, through formal and non-formal learning, staff learn from people who come in looking for help and vice versa. (See also the Training link on our website).
Our landmark research is available on our Research link on this website. This is entitled ‘Voices of Families Affected by Imprisonment’. We are very grateful to all who contributed to this study for being open and honest in their accounts of the effects of imprisonment and are inspired by their courage to follow through with work that alleviate the distress of families of prisoners. The findings of this Research have been used as a springboard for development of a variety of activities in the Project since publication in 2008. (See also our ‘Evaluations’ link)
- Raising Funds:
All our work is dependent on the support and generosity of funders. We are grateful to those who believe in our mission, whether they are statutory or voluntary (trusts and foundations). We will be actively seeking funds to expand our services, both in Limerick and Clare, when Covid is in the rear-view mirror!