COPING Speak at United Nations
Two young people on behalf of the COPING Project speak at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
In recognition of a dedicated UN event designed to generate awareness of the issues affecting the children of imprisoned parents, Chancellor and COPING Patron, Sir Patrick Stewart recorded an address for the UN Day of Discussion on Children of Imprisoned Parents, recently held in Geneva, Switzerland at the headquarters of the United Nations Watch the video.
The event which was held on Friday 30th September was attended by several members of the COPING Project Consortium, including two young people who made history when they addressed the delegates and spoke about their experiences of having a parent in prison.
This was the first time that the UN's Committee on the Rights of the Child has ever invited young people to take part in their proceedings. Siân (aged 13 years) and Raheel (aged 17 years) both from the UK, had been taking part in the COPING study and had agreed to help publicise children of prisoners rights by speaking about the difficulties they and other young people face when a parent is imprisoned. The UN's Discussion Day had attracted an international audience of invited government experts, international and national NGO's and UN representatives.
There are unprecedented numbers of people being sent to prison throughout Western nations, with an estimated 125,000 children being forcibly separated from a parent through imprisonment in England and Wales, and a staggering 800,000 children experiencing parental imprisonment on any given day in the European Union.
Siân and Raheel gave a flawless presentation, vividly highlighting the difficulties they had undergone and the many issues that other young people face when a parent has been incarcerated. They emphasized how small changes can have a big impact, like having sofas installed in the prison visiting rooms, making visits more natural and allowing closer contact. Both said that they were attending the UN meeting to inspire changes in the prison system and suggested ways that young people can fight isolation, get information about how to cope, and find inspiration from supportive organisations. Thanks to Siân and Raheel, this was a very successful day.
The COPING study continues to involve children and young people in all aspects of the Project, and is currently designing a dedicated space on the COPING website for children /young people to have an input into the project, as well as share ideas and gain support from each other.