S.O.S.O.L.O (Supporting Ourselves while Supporting Our Loved Ones) is a support group for family members, partners, and close friends of people who are incarcerated.
I started this group first and foremost as a person who struggles with many issues and emotions around my loved one who is serving a federal prison sentence, and secondly, as someone with a background in social work who recognizes there is a huge need for this type of support system.
With the current government's tough on crime agenda that focuses on prison expansion and passing new crime bills, it is very likely the jail/prison population will continue to grow. This means there will also be an increase in the number of loved ones left to deal with the aftermath of crime.
What appears to have gone unnoticed are the grave difficulties loved ones of people in jail/prison face - stress/worry about their loved one's safety and well-being during the period of incarceration, how to tell children where their parent is, navigating through policies/procedures when visiting institutions, and journeying through various court processes. We also have to deal with numerous social stigmas that often lead to isolation because of limitations on whom we can speak to about the trials we face.
In the midst of this storm we often feel alone, frustrated, sad, angry, confused etc. - I know I have felt all of these emotions and more. This group cannot guarantee solutions to these complex issues, but offers a safe, non-judgmental space to be able to speak openly with one another. We share our struggles, knowledge, and resources from the perspective of lived experience.
My hope is that we can break the silence around us, while building our collective strength, by supporting each other while supporting our loved ones who are institutionalized. We currently have a support group in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), who meet monthly, we connect with loved ones internationally, offering support via email, and as well, participate in public education around the issues loved ones of incarcerated people face.
We are always open to, and welcome all feedback. Thank you for taking the time to read this, we look forward to connecting soon!
New members must be approved by the Organizer
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