Kirsty Deacon is a PhD student supported by What Works Scotland.

About Kirsty’s research

Kirsty DeaconMy research will explore the experience of the imprisonment of a family member (parent or sibling) for children and young people aged 13 to 25.

Specifically it will consider what family means for these young people and how they experience family when a member has been imprisoned. It will also consider how they have dealt with the effects of the imprisonment and what services and supports are in place, or may be required, to help them manage this experience.

Approximately 27,000 children and young people experience parental imprisonment each year in Scotland. This is more children than will be affected by divorce in the family. While there is a growing body of literature in relation to the impact of parental imprisonment on children and young people, there is still a lack of the young people’s voices within this research, particularly those of older children and young adults. This research aims to begin to fill this gap in the literature.

The first stage of the research has involved spending 18 months with an arts collective known as KIN, a collaborative creative arts project between Families Outside and Vox Liminis for young people aged 16-25 who have experienced the imprisonment of a family member. KIN is a project which is led along with the young people themselves and gives them a space where their voices can be heard. Using art forms created by the group, KIN enables communication with other young people experiencing similar circumstances as well as the decision-making adults and services that are involved in their lives at these times. I am currently carrying out in-depth semi-structured interviews with the young people from KIN.

The second stage of the research will involve in-depth semi-structured interviews with young people aged 13 to 17 who are engaged with a third sector organisation working with families affected by imprisonment.

More about Kirsty

I have worked previously in the criminal justice sector in criminal law firms, with the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and with Police Scotland.

I completed my MRes in Criminology at the University of Glasgow in 2015 during which my dissertation was again based on a Vox Liminis project which was a three-day songwriting workshop (known as a Vox Session) which was run in HMP Castle Huntly.

The research looked at whether projects such as this could contribute to intermediate outcomes on the journey towards desistance and assist in enabling individuals to form positive identities and build new narratives.

From October 2016 to January 2017 I undertook a three-month Scottish Graduate School of Social Science internship with the Local Governance and Reform research team within the Scottish Government. This internship looked at attempts to gauge and illustrate impact that u.lab may be having in Scotland.

I am currently working as a researcher on the Justice Stories project. This project collects ordinary people’s experiences of justice; stories of the often small ways in which the general public glimpses the workings of the criminal justice system and creates a living archive from these interviews of how justice is experienced in our times.

In March 2018 Kirsty took second place in the University of Glasgow Three-Minute Thesis Competition.


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