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“Read Together” a Mothers' Union Prison Project in Down and Dromore, Ireland
On World Book Day - 7 March 2019 - three Mothers’ Union members from the Diocese of Down and Dromore presented over 200 books to the library at Hydebank Wood College, a women’s prison in Northern Ireland.
The books were duplicate sets of children’s books, one copy of which will be lent to a child to take home and then the same book will be read simultaneously by their relation in Hydebank Wood - be it the child’s mother, grandmother, sister, aunt etc. The project is called “Read Together” as, by reading the same book at the same time, the adult and child will have something in common to talk about on the next family visit or even during home telephone calls.
The project aims to help nuture and support family relationships despite difficult situations as well as specifically helping children through what can be a difficult experience when visiting a family member in prison.
The idea for the project and the subsequent approach to the staff of Hydebank Wood came to then Diocesan President, June Butler, and the Action and Outreach Coordinator, Clare Stewart, when they were attending a MULOA event last year. Subsequently they liaised with the governor and library staff at the prison and the diocese obtained funding from the Ireland project fund “Mums in May”. It was launched on World Book Day when children visiting the prison were dressed as their favourite characters from stories.
The books were presented in the Family Centre at Hydebank Wood with the Governor thanking MU members for their generosity he said "the books will make such a difference to the communication between adults and children, thank you". June Butler commented; “the project clearly meets the aim of Mothers’ Union to further strong family relationships. It is a joy to be at Hydebank today to see the children dressed as characters from stories they already know. These new books will introduce them to different stories and also help them develop stronger bonds with the adults they love.”