Pets giving therapy
There are many organisations, such as the registered charity Pets As Therapy (www.petsastherapy.org) who realise the importance of the therapeutic effect of spending time with animals. For example, there are schemes to take dogs and cats to hospitals, hospices and care homes. Programmes such as Read 2 Dogs – when dogs are taken into schools – have been very successful. Children can lose their inhibitions and improve their literacy skills and confidence when reading to non-judgmental and supportive canine friends.
You can find more information about bitterns at www.rspb.org.uk. At the time of writing this note, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has ‘red-listed’ the bittern because of the global threat to the species, and the severe decline in its population in the UK.
Support for prisoners’ families
The plight of the family and friends of prisoners has been described as the ‘silent sentence’ – it is not only the prisoner that suffers from the enforced separation from loved ones. Many organisations and schemes offer help and support in these circumstances. For instance, if Mikey’s parents had become involved with the Storybook Dad programme, Dad could have recorded bedtime stories in prison for Mikey to replay and listen to before he went to sleep – www.storybookdads.org.uk.
Here are a few of the many support groups and helplines that are available:
www.pffs.org.uk Prisoners’ Families and Friends Service is described as an independent voluntary agency which has offered support for the relatives of prisoners for over four decades.
www.prisonersfamilieshelpline.org.uk Offenders’ Families Helpline offers advice from the time of the prisoner’s arrest to life beyond release from prison.
www.sharp-uk.org Support, help and advice for relatives and friends of prisoners is given by SHARP which is free and confidential.