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Charity launches new book to help children separated from their mum or dad

Nepacs charity has launched a new storybook for World Book Day (2 March 2023) to help young children when they are separated from their mum or dad and struggling with missing seeing them.

The book, titled Buddy and the Box, tells the story of a little boy called Joe and his pet dog Buddy, and ‘highlights important emotions and issues which a child in their situation may experience, in a format that is accessible to children. Joe is helped in the story by his family, Buddy and a teacher to talk about his feelings, keep in touch with his dad and look forward to the time he gets to spend with his dad.

Buddy is the children’s mascot for Nepacs, a charity which aims to promote a positive future for people who have been affected by adverse situations in their lives - working with families, young people and children, as well as those affected by the criminal justice system. Within north east prison visitors centres and visits play areas there are lots of toys, games, arts, crafts and activities which include Buddy. And Nepacs play workers and volunteers organise lots of family activities which include Buddy, for the special family visits which take place. A leaflet designed for children which features Buddy, also explains what to expect when you visit a loved one in prison for the first time to help children feel reassured and less scared or nervous.

Amanda Lacey, Nepacs CEO, said: “We are really excited to launch our very first Nepacs storybook for children separated from their mum or dad. At Nepacs we support children who have a parent or loved one in prison, and children and young people in care, and we know that these children can feel worried, isolated and ashamed, and most struggle to talk about how they are feeling.

“One of the biggest challenges a parent will face when someone is imprisoned is what to tell the children. Adults play a big part in helping children recognise their feelings and work out the best way to understand them. They may experience many different emotions at the thought of a parent going to prison and they will need help to process these.

“Our new Buddy story book can be read with children by family members, carers or professionals. Through the characters and story we hope to help children realise that it will help them and their family if they talk about their feelings and what worries them, and to find ways to keep in touch with their mum or dad, when they are not living with them, or to look forward to their next visit.

“We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the development of this Buddy and the Box story, so wonderfully brought to life by children’s author and illustrator Liz Million. Special thanks also to Rachel Burns who wrote the original Buddy story in collaboration with Megan Cassidy, Angela Donaghy and Tina Young from Nepacs and to the young people involved in our youth project who gave us their invaluable feedback.”

Liz Million, children’s illustrator and author added: “I was really excited about working with Nepacs especially as the book will help so many children and their families cope with an unusual or difficult time in their lives. We worked very closely as a team and exchanged ideas and thoughts throughout the story process to make sure that the book would be believable as well as fun for the children.

“I thoroughly enjoyed creating the Buddy book and love to think of the positive impact it will have for future generations.”

Copies of the book will be available in Nepacs prison visitors centres across the north east and can be downloaded online at The story is also available on the Nepacs You Tube channel.


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