Two prison support charities announce merger

Pact and Kids VIP say it is a 'fantastic opportunity' to strengthen and develop their services

 Kids VIP
Kids VIP

Two charities that support families affected by imprisonment have merged.

Pact (the Prison Advice & Care Trust), which provides services including visitor centres and children's play facilities, and Kids VIP, which works to improve relations between children and their imprisoned relatives, have come together under the Pact brand.

A Pact spokesman said the move came about because Kids VIP, which has four staff who work from home, wanted to secure its future.

Pact, which has 200 employees, would benefit from Kids VIP's expertise in training prison staff in issues relating to children affected by imprisonment, he said.

The Kids VIP branding will continue to be used for all of the merged entity's services for children. No redundancies would be made as a result of the merger, the spokesman added.

Andy Keen-Downs, chief executive of Pact, will lead the new organisation. Kids VIP does not have a chief executive.

Keen-Downs said in a statement: "The shared ethos of Kids VIP and Pact make this an ideal match. I have long admired their work to train and support prisons with child-centred visits and I am committed to continue to provide this great service working alongside Pact staff.

"This merger is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen and develop the services to those affected by imprisonment so that the disruption to their lives is minimised."

Fiona Clarke, founder and trustee of Kids VIP, said: "The origins of Kids VIP lie in work that started in 1986, when I noticed mothers with children outside the prison gate at Winchester prison and offered to run a play area in the visits room for them.

"Since then, the charity has developed a strong national profile. In the current climate, we now believe it makes sense to merge and have chosen to place our work with Pact – one of a number of possible partners. We believe that they have the commitment, ethos and know-how to take forward our work nationally for children visiting prisons."

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