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Bedford Row Family Project Report: Holding the Suffering launched

Pictured at the launch of the Bedford Row Family Project Report: Holding the Suffering research report were L-R: report authors Ruth Bourke and Dr Ann Higgins of the Transforming Education through Dialogue (TED) Project, MIC; and Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Bedford Row Family Project Report: Holding the Suffering launched

This week saw the official launch of the Bedford Row Family Project Report: Holding the Suffering research report.

The report, which was officially launched by Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, identifies the model of service delivery of the Bedford Row Family Project (BRFP).  Written by Dr Ann Higgins and Ruth Bourke of the Transforming Education through Dialogue (TED) Project, MIC, and funded by the St Stephen’s Green Trust, the report also examines the impact of engagement with BRFP for the many children, adults and families involved and makes recommendations to improve the service.

Founded in 1999 by the Franciscan and Mercy Orders, and supported since that time by Irish Prison Service in particular Limerick Prison, the BRFP service has grown to offer a suite of multi-site, intergenerational and integrated services to support prisoners, former prisoners and families of prisoners.  During 2016 they supported 169 families, 75 male former prisoners, 28 female former prisoners, 29 male prisoners, 51 female prisoners, and 9 individuals.  A key component of the model of service of the BRFP is that people who attend the services are provided with opportunities to express themselves creatively in the broadest sense. Opportunities for creativity are provided through art, music, poetry, cooking and baking, drama and creative writing and also through opportunities for creative expression in ceremonies and celebrations. The report launch also saw the unveiling of some of the art work produced by members of the BRFP. 

According to the authors, Ruth Bourke and Dr Ann Higgins, the research found that the BRFP had a profound impact on the quality of lives of people who used the services. The supports offered to prisoners, former prisoners and to families of prisoners to manage the prison sentences and to prepare for transition out of prison and back into family and society were deeply appreciated by the people interviewed.  Essentially, engagement with the BRFP nurtured hope, built resilience and helped individuals and families to believe that a better future was possible.

Launching the report Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated: “This research is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the impact of imprisonment on families in Ireland. It clearly demonstrates that when we design services which have human rights and equality values, such as respect, participation, dignity, at their core it is possible have a transformative effect on lives. I hope the recommendations set forth in this research will allow the Bedford Row Family Project to continue to grow from strength to strength. I also hope this research will reach wider audiences and will be brought to bear on the development and improvement of services for individuals and families affected by imprisonment nationwide.”

Congratulating the authors Professor Eugene Wall, President (Acting) MIC said “In the most profound sense, the Bedford Row Family Project nurtures hope and builds peoples’ resilience, in a deeply respectful, caring and non-judgmental way. This report offers all of us the opportunity to learn from the experiences and success of the Bedford Row Family Project as supporting families and communities and indeed each other is fundamental to building a caring fair society. MIC is very proud to be associated with this work and I commend Ruth Bourke and Dr Ann Higgins, for undertaking this important research”.

For more on family activity in Limerick click here

To read the report in full click here

 

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.

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