SOLID Support For Parents

SOLID Support Group
SOLID Support Group

Story: Laura Moya

On Monday 2nd November we met up to have a chat with the members of “SOLID”, a local group run by founder Vivian Osborne, whose aim is to provide help and support for the parents and families of prisoners in Sheffield. The group, which has been running for the past four years, is run entirely by volunteers and is based in the SYAC building on The Wicker.

Over copious amounts of tea and biscuits we sat down to talk to Vivian and SOLID members to get a better idea of what a typical meeting is like, and to ask them of their experiences regarding their child’s imprisonment. The meetings currently consist of four people who have been members since the group’s foundation.

The group usually meets up on the first Monday of every month between 7:00 and 8:30pm, but meeting times can be flexible.

“Sometimes we meet more than once a month because some of our members require that extra support” said Vivian.

“At the crisis point when their child goes to prison they just need someone to talk to” she continued, adding that the group is there as a place for members to offload their problems without the worry of being judged.”

When the group first began, meetings involved ice breaking activities where members wrote down their name, their reason for coming along and any issues they had. One member recalls:

“I didn’t really know what to expect. When I first came, 4 years ago, I was the only white girl and I thought ‘Am I supposed to be here?’ I thought it was only for African-Caribbean people, but I knew I needed some help.”

The group has been particularly helpful for members when their loved ones were first convicted. There were no support groups in Sheffield at the time and SOLID is still the only support group of this kind available. The group is open to people from all backgrounds and communities, and provides a warm and supportive atmosphere, making new members welcome.

“That’s why we felt it was important to have a group where you could talk about your issues” said Vivian. “When my son went to prison it was very much a shock and I didn’t know where to turn.” All members agreed that it is essential for there to be moral support when the event first occurs. “You just need somebody to talk to” said one member.

“You have all these thoughts mulling around your head…disbelief, shame, feeling like it’s only happening to your family. In the support group you can tell people the truth… people sit there and let you finish what you’re saying.”

“I don’t think people can truly understand unless it’s happening to them,” Vivian said, regarding support from family and friends.

“The concern drops off… but you’re still facing it on a daily basis.”_ One member continued, “As the parent, who do you talk to?" The professionals involved are not there for the family, they have a job to do, and supporting families is a low priority.”

The group also told us what it was like when visiting their child in prison, with one member saying:

“For mothers, it’s horrendous going through the search. It has to be done and there’s no getting around it.”

The group can help with long term issues regarding imprisonment, as well as providing a space for members to express their concerns and seek advice from others on the subject, who undoubtedly will understand what they are experiencing.

If you are interested in joining SOLID, or just want to hear more about the group, get in touch with Vivian Osborne on 0114 2756301, or pop in to a meeting held every first Monday of the month between 7:00-8:30pm in the SYAC building on The Wicker.

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The content on this page was added to the website by Michelle Cook on 2009-11-26 17:09:25.
The content of the page was last modified by Jamie Marriott on 2009-11-30 14:23:56.

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