What is AFFECT?
We are a non-judgmental organisation that supports the families and friends of prisoners regardless of length of sentence or type of offence, from serious offending to those serving shorter sentences. We provide volunteer listeners and counsellors who are trained, DBS checked, and themselves supported either by structured peer to peer support or supervised in accordance with ethical and professional practice and standards. We are a registered charity with a Board of Trustees that looks after both our everyday business and on-going future development.
Why is AFFECT needed?
When a crime is committed the family and friends of offenders are often forgotten. As victims of crime themselves, they are left to manage a situation which is out of their control, but which has a great impact on their lives. Bereavement is usually experienced when dealing with the loss of a loved one to prison and is often compounded as family may be ostracized by neighbours and friends. Some of the feelings, emotions, ill health and behaviors experienced by family members can include; depression, panic attacks, agoraphobia, grief, sadness, fear, guilt, shame, anger, self blame (for not being the perfect parent, sibling, partner or friend) and self loathing which hooks into their low self esteem and poor self worth. Many can go on to develop unhealthy and unhelpful “coping mechanisms”, but with appropriate support they are able to find their own, healthy coping strategies. Additionally, for many, financial pressures can be overwhelming. Trying to find extra money for travelling to often difficult to reach prisons can be hard but more so when, for some, it comes at a time when their main family earner is the one being visited in that prison.
What does AFFECT do?
We are here to listen and support, and to be here for you in a completely confidential and non-judgemental way. Many of our listeners and counsellors have gone through this trauma too and experience shows there is great value in receiving support from people who share common ground. We offer telephone listening and counselling nationwide, group gatherings (by invitation), and endeavour to provide individual face to face support (resources permitting) in the home, at court during the trial, or elsewhere if appropriate. The support we provide is ongoing and not time limited. We work with “the family” or individuals within the family of whatever age, resources permitting.
We have participated in research with Criminology and Law Students from London School of Economics and we are mentioned in Rachel Condry’s book “Families Shamed, the consequences of crime for relatives of serious offenders” ISBN 978 – 1 – 84392 – 207 – 0. Published by Willan.
We also aim to provide information and continuously acquire new information in this constantly changing field. We are happy to give talks to any groups interested in what we do.