How my daughter connected with her dad through Create’s programme with fathers in prison: guest blog

Illustration by fathers in prison

Inside Stories is Create’s multi award-winning programme with fathers in prison. It gives them the opportunity to work collaboratively to produce original, illustrated stories and music for their children, which they perform. Their children then receive a storybook and CD to enjoy at home. Below, Heather, whose six-year-old daughter Kyra’s father took part in Inside Stories, reveals the impact the project has had.  

My daughter Kyra’s father Sam, who is in prison, has dyslexia and special educational needs. There was barely any help available when he was a child. I’m a primary school teacher and encouraged Sam to enrol in adult education a few years ago to help him get a job. On the first day, another student made fun of him because of the stutter he has when under pressure – another thing he hasn’t had help with. He refused to return, and has never been able to find a job due to his poor literacy skills and reluctance to participate in any education as he does not like to look ‘silly’.

Sam was initially reluctant to take part in Inside Stories because he cannot read or write and always hated school. But when he spoke to me on the phone after his first workshop, I could tell he was surprised because he’d really enjoyed the session. He began to look forward to the sessions and always wanted to talk to me about them.

The day of the performance

Kyra and I attended a performance of Sam’s story at the prison. Friendly staff took us to the prison chapel, which was filled with musical instruments, and we waited for the children’s fathers to arrive.

Sam played the xylophone during the performance of his story, an adventure about a magical unicorn. I was completely stunned at what he had managed to achieve, and couldn’t believe he was brave enough to be in front of a small group performing music for a story for his daughter. I struggled not to cry!

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Kyra was engaged for the whole session and had a wonderful time. She also got the chance to play musical instruments and create a collage after the performance. She misses her father greatly. He always used to tell her stories at bedtime, and words cannot describe how much having this story written by her father and being able to hear his voice has helped. Inside Stories is an excellent idea for fathers in prison. It brings families together.

It’s wonderful that Create has managed to change Sam’s opinion on education and that he enjoyed the workshops. I hope there will be more opportunities available for him as I feel it will quite possibly change his outlook on life. It’s extremely important for people in prison to have the chance to be creative. It boosts morale and helps them realise that they do have potential and can achieve things.

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