Lecture to highlight the invisible victims of crime
By Matt Lee
Two Durham University colleges are to host a lecture on the impact of prison on the families of those sentenced. St Aidan’s and St Cuthbert’s have joined forces with the local charity North East Prison After Care Society (NEPACS) to organise an annual lecture entitled “Not Seen, Not Heard, Not Guilty”.
The guest speaker will be Tam Baillie, Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland, who recently authored the report which lends its name to the lecture title.
NEPACS is a charity that has connections with HMP Durham stretching back 130 years. Originally set up by a local chaplain as a basic form of probation, the organisation now aims to “build bridges for prisoners, their families and the community”. They offer a range of services from play centres, to make children’s visits to incarcerated relatives as comfortable as possible, to free caravan holidays and small financial grants to families facing hardship.
The charity’s ties with the Durham area have also lead to fruitful relationships with the University. Current Vice-Chancellor Christopher Higgins was listed as President of the NEPACS board in 2011 and Student Community Action provides volunteers for the play centres.
Helen Attewell, CEO of NEPACS, commented: “Durham Unviersity Students have a long history of supporting NEPACS through volunteering and we look forward to continuing to work together in the future”.
As part of its continued support for the charity, the University has agreed to host the lecture in the Calman Learning Centre and help organise the speaker. Mr Baillie has worked with children for 30 years and was appointed by the Scottish Parliament to ensure the rights of young people in Scotland are upheld.
His talk will focus on the children of inmates and how these “unseen victims” often suffer “stigma and shame which can have lasting effects on their mental health and future prospects”.
The work of the charity is especially pertinent in the Durham area which has three separate prisons.
The NEPACS annual lecture will take place at 5.30pm on Wednesday 9th May in the Rosemary Cramp Lecture Theatre.