Making it Up

In July 2018, we launched a new family reading initiative, Making it Up.

Family contact for prisoners is key in aiding rehabilitation. We wanted to help increase parents’ confidence in reading with their children so that they could engage and bond over reading during a family visit.

We all use stories: to help better understanding, to make us laugh, or to share something. Making it Up is about the power of stories and the connection they can build between fathers and their children.

Leading up to a special family visit day, fathers took part in workshops led by David Kendall, where they learnt about the importance of reading with their children and created their own storybooks. The project has run twice so far inside HMP Wormwood Scrubs, first in July and then in the weekend before Christmas:

July 2018

Family group

On the day, families who came into the prison exchanged stories and listened as author and illustrator Chris Riddell spoke about his love of reading and drawing. All the children received signed copies of one of his books. Feedback from the families and prison staff was very encouraging and following on from this pilot, the prison agreed to part-fund Making it Up for the next year.

“Much better, more relaxed…One day you’ve taken prison away from my family.”

December 2018

Again, fathers taking part in Making it Up had attended workshops leading up to the visit day and put together their own story books for their children. This time, comic illustrator and writer ILYA joined in on the visit day with a comic drawing demonstration, and all the children received a book to take home at the end of the day.

“Absolutely brilliant. Gets kids involved, gives them ideas. Using imagination, ours and theirs.”

Since its inception we have continued to run the project and received incredible feedback from both the fathers and their families. Here are some answers from the fathers and their families from sessions in 2019 when we asked what they enjoyed most about the day:

“drawing and making stories with daddy”

“spending time together as a family reading and making books”

“seeing my son and his dad spending quality time together creating characters and reading each other stories.”


Read our blog about our first Making it Up session here.

Published 18th February 2020


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