I am an action researcher and senior lecturer in the School of Education, teaching broadly on child health, child therapeutics, and services for children and families. I am also the founder and director of The MyTime Project which supports children affected by parental imprisonment in the community.
I began my career as a grass roots community worker in various socially deprived areas across Liverpool. I ran children and family centres, community arts projects and successfully raised £500,000 of ERDF monies to rebuild a dilapidated community building, a project I oversaw from planning to completion.
Following a brief period living in Australia where I worked in pre-schools and in family homes supporting chronically ill children, I returned to the UK where, upon completion of an MSc in Applied Psychology, I began work as a researcher in female prisons.
Here I conducted numerous interviews with imprisoned women to gain their perspectives on the barriers to resettlement. My interest in the particular vulnerabilities of female offenders quickly grew. I carried out an in-depth study entitled “Getting off the Merry-go-Round” findings of which I disseminated across Europe including Key Note Speaking for the European Conference Female Offenders in Holland in 2006.
My interest in the criminal justice system quickly grew from here. I conducted a further qualitative enquiry looking specifically at the barriers to post-release ETE (education, training, employment), with the overall objective of exploring how resettlement strategies can be improved. My research expanded to the male and juvenile estates where I interviewed cohorts of ‘doubly disadvantaged’ prisoners including sex offenders, older prisoners (60yrs +) and younger prisoners (ages 16-24yrs). I also developed and taught training programmes for both prisoners and prison officers.
Having become acutely aware of the larger number of imprisoned parents and the distinct lack of support for their children and families, I turned my attention to providing community-based support for children who have a parent in prison. I then developed a model of support and have been running peer support groups in the community for over a decade. My work was featured in the recent BBC 1 documentary “Prison, My Parents and Me” (2016). In 2017, I won the LJMU Spotlight Research Award to build a prototype for the very first self-help app for prisoner’s children, called 'MyTime'. This project is now underway!and more recently, The MyTime Project was a featured news item on BBC North West TV (2019).
In addition to my role as lecturer, I continue to work with specialised prisoner’s children’s organisations and research projects, nationally and internationally. I am one of 12 international board members, peer elected, for INNCIP (International Coalition for Children of Incarcerated Parents) that aims to address the issues children of incarcerated parents faced on a global scale.
Brookes LM, Dawson A, Carter B, Larman G, Jackson D. 2013. Stigma, health and incarceration: Turning the tide for children with a parent in prison Journal of Child Health Care,
Brookes L, Leeming J. 2007. Reviewing the Barriers to Resettlement for Female Offenders Serving Short-Term Sentences. A Gender Perspective within the Juvenile Justice System. Italian Juvenile Justice Department.
Brookes L. Practical Support for Children with a Mother in Prison. Reflections from a practitioner. Lockwood K. Edited Collection on Mothering and Imprisonment Emerald Publishing Ltd
Wilkinson C, Benwell M, Carter B, Brookes L, Davies A, Evans B, Silverio SA, Thomas G. Creative Dissemination. Benzon N, Holton M, Wilkinson C, Wilkinson S. Creative Methods for Human Geographers. SAGE Public Url
Brookes L, Leeming J. 2005. Getting off the Merry-go-round’: Reviewing the barriers to resettlement for female offenders serving short-term sentences.
Brookes L. Two Qualitative Studies Reviewing the Perspectives of Doubly Disadvantaged Prisoners on Pursuing Education, Training or Employment (ETE) Post-Release. Publisher Url
Engagement & Impact
Research Grants Awarded:
Merseyside Violence Prevention Partnership, Safe Together. Art Therapy for children with a parent or family member in prison., Grant value (£): 11520, Duration of research project: 6 months.. 2019