The Bedford Row Family Project, Limerick was established in 1999 as a joint Mercy Sisters/Franciscan Order initiative to support families of prisoners, both when they are in and out of prison and have had significant success in turning around the lives of people who are involved with crime and drugs, many of whom have struggled most of their lives.
Crime and imprisonment affects all of us and causes a lot of pain and distress in society and so the Bedford Row Family Project works with all generations, from new-born babies to the elderly to try and break the cycle of involvement in crime. They work heavily with children and teenagers who are at risk of dropping out of school and encourage the senior generation to act as a fount of wisdom and experience within their family.
They have specialized social workers and therapists to provide support for both men and women, along with a kids club for children from families who are or have been in prison.
Men’s Group on a fishing trip
The men’s club meets every Friday and gets involved in a number of creative activities, such as cooking and painting. They designed a bench, decorated with beautiful colours and sea-shells, to present to St. Michael’s school.
Look at our website and find out more about our unique model. We need your help in our work to fashion better outcomes for children in distress, have healthier communities and a safer society in general.
Teenage Group horseriding
Initially the Project was set up in a hospitality area in Limerick Prison to offer support and refreshments to family members as they visit their loved one. A city centre based premises has grown and developed, offering a skilled response to those affected by imprisonment.
In the last number of years we work in an in-reach capacity with men and women in the care of Limerick prison. Our work focuses on supporting them during their time of custody and maintaining family links with family on the outside. We work in conjunction with the education department in the prison offering parenting programmes and in conjunction with Palls (Probation and Linkage Programme) in the delivery of Art Therapy for the women. Our in-reach support continues on release as we support the men and women in the Limerick area to reconnect meaningfully with family and life on release.
Artwork made by the Bedford Row Children’s Group on display at the Hunt Museum
A worker was engaged to work with members of the Travelling community in the Limerick area building trusting relationships that in the future we hope will result in positive outcomes.
A significant aspect of our approach is that we work in a partnership model with the Prison Service and other agencies in the city both statutory and voluntary. Such a feature of working delivers a comprehensive and professional support to the people we encounter on a daily basis.
In 2016 we were asked to support the replication of our approach in Ennis, Co Clare. Since then Bedford Row Clare has become established and is growing and responding to the particular needs in terms of imprisonment in the Clare area.
In Bedford Row Project we believe in a world beyond imprisonment, in creating safer communities and in making consistent efforts to understand the ‘why’ of imprisonment. Understanding the ‘why’ enables us to respond with the ‘how’ that we hope is meaningful and realistic. The core of our ‘how’ is based on the trusting, understanding and accepting relationships that we place emphasis on establishing.
Bedford Row Family Project