Bambinisenzasbarre Onlus is an Association involved in the care of the family relations during the detention of one or both parents; of the tutelage of the child’s right to the continuity of the emotional bonds; of the sensitization of the referencial institutions and of the society on these issues.
Bambinisenzasbarre was born as a group in 1997 becoming, in 2002, an Association, currently present in the three prisons of Milan – S. Vittore, Bollate and Opera – and in other prisons in Lombardy Region with its activities of support to the parenthood and, in Lombardy, acting as a psycho-pedagogical specialized agency as well as its activities of training with an operational net on the national territory with its Welcoming Pattern “Yellow Space”.
The maintenance of the relation child/parent during the detention of one parent or both of them and the tutelage of the right of the child to the continuity of the emotional ties through a mediation activity with the “outside world” as support of the parenthood function in the child’s interest.
Partnership and collaborations
Bambinisenzasbarre is a member of the Managing Council of Eurochips – European Network for Children of Imprisoned parents – the European net which has its Head Office in Paris and which is present in 15 Countries. In Italy, the Association is partner, for the intervention in the penitentiary area, of the Ministry of Justice, Department of the Penitentiary Administration and of the Regional Superintendency for Lombardy. In Europe, Bambinisenzasbarre is associated with the Foundation Bernard van Leer in The Hague and with the Federation of the Relais Enfants-Parents of Paris. It also carries out collaborations with the following Universities: Statale, Bicocca and Cattolica of Milan, with the Institute for the Human Rights of Copenhagen, with the European Commission and with the Group CRC, coordinated by the Association “Save the Children”.
Welcome pattern “Yellow Space”
The welcome space “Yellow Space” is an integrated socio-educational space, inside the prison, for the children who are preparing themselves to meet their detainee parent. Thanks to the work of psychologists and pedagogues, in collaboration with the Cattolica University and Bicocca University of Milan, the experience of the prison becomes “understandable” because it can be jointly elaborated.
The “Yellow Space” is the place linking the territory to the prison. It is the space “outside” which is “inside” and therefore it is a problematic spot which – following its nature – stimulates the “inside” as to say the prison, to give answers to the “outside” as to say children, families and territory. A place which takes care of the relations and also a research observatory.
For the children. The “Yellow Space” suits perfectly to the children and it is very well equipped with everything it could be needed in order to accompany them during the delicate moment which precedes and follows the meeting with their detainee parent and to make understandable this experience, always difficult and potentially traumatic for them. Playing, in that place, becomes an mean through which the children have the chance of talking about themselves, of “giving voice” to their needs and difficulties and of elaborating the experience which they are going to live.
For the families. The “Yellow Space” is provided with an area for the parent/relative which is a place for meeting and information/advice, specific for the detainees’ families.
For the agents. The “Yellow Space” is a place of sensitization and of training for the penitentiary agents of the Meeting Office which is the first impact of the child with the prison.
The “Yellow Space” originates – in 2007 – from the experience carried out by Bambinisenzasbarre at the prison of San Vittore reaching, afterwards – as consolidated pattern – the prison of Bollate. Today it is the instrument for the children who find themselves at the “proof of the prison”: a real junction in the Milanese penitentiary system, from the arrest and the waiting for trail in San Vittore, up to the sentence prison of Opera. It is also a national reference point for the support of the family and of the children of the imprisoned parents in the Italian prisons. In 2009 the “Project Yellow Space” has been appointed in Rome, with the Mention of Merit “Premio Amico della Famiglia” by the Italian Prime Minister.
The decennial experience of Bambinisenzasbarre and the trusty relationship with the Institutions of the penitentiary structure, has allowed the realization, for the first time, in the prison of Bollate, of the project Trovopapà (Find-dad) a route letting the child, when he gets into the prison, to accept, using his own language, the foreseen procedures by the prison regulations. Trovopapà (Find-dad) is a conceptual and operative pattern which is repeatable in all the prisons. The impact with the world of the prison, for the child, is potentially traumatic; it carries with itself the absence of the parent and of his affective relation, but it is also of some confusion, bewilderment of one’s identity, fear and refusal of the context and of its rules.
The map. At the entrance the children is guided by a map up to the meeting with his/her parent. This map allows him/her to place himself, recognizing them all, in the places and in the moments which he/she is going to live. Through marks, colors, the white spaces left among the illustrations the child can talk about his/her mood and, also, describing it by drawings and, in the meanwhile, he/she becomes also able to knowledge and to accept in a untroubled way the compulsory prison procedures: the body search, the deposit of his/her own toys, etc.
During the last 4 years, the Association has set up training courses for prison staff, for school teachers and for the psychosocial professionals (psychologists, educationalists, pedagogists, social workers) on the subject of the children of imprisoned parents. It is an operative pattern for all the penitentiary institutions of Lombardy held by the Superintendency of the Region.
The European research
The research “The prison at the children’ proof: the children of detainee parents: a vulnerable group” carried out in Italy by Bambinisenzasbarre with the coordination of the Danish Institute For The Human Rights has given an accurate picture – for the first time – of a phenomenon involving a large part of the society: children separated from their imprisoned parents who, daily, get into the prisons to meet them, are more than one million in the European Union and 95-105 thousand in Italy. The research has involved all the Italian prisons, through a questionnaire with close and open questions addressed to the prison staff composed by: educationists, penitentiary officers of the meetings section – staff and command.
Alain Bouregba, Chairman of the French Federation of the Relais Enfants-Parents de Paris, Henriette Heimgartner, promoter of Eurochips (European Network for Children of Imprisoned Parents) and of Bambinisenzasbarre, Romano Madera, professor of Filosofia Morale and of Pratiche Filosofiche at the University of Bicocca in Milan, founder of Philo, Scuola Superiore di Pratiche Filosofiche, Susanna Mantovani, pro-rector of the University Bicocca in Milan, Valerio Onida, Past-President of Corte Costituzionale and professor of Giustizia Costituzionale at the University in Milan, Mauro Palma, chairman of the Comitato Europeo Prevenzione Tortura e Maltrattamenti, Consiglio d’Europa. Lella Ravasi Bellocchio, psychanalist, Vero Tarca, professor of Filosofia Teoretica at the University of Venice.