I am a Reader in the School of Education (Reader in Parental Imprisonment) teaching broadly on child development, child trauma and research methods. I am also the founder of Time Matters UK (TMUK) which supports children affected by parental imprisonment in the community. TMUK is currently funded by the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership; an early intervention service which supports children and families online and face to face, in schools and in community settings. My research predominantly centres on unearthing experiences of parental imprisonment and discovering what helps the children cope in the face of this trauma. Many students from LJMU choose to undertake a placement with TMUK at undergraduate and masters degree level. TMUK is a placement provider for the LJMU MA in Social Work.
I began my career as a grass roots community worker in various socially deprived areas across Liverpool. I ran children and family centres, and community arts projects. 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 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. More recently, Time Matters UK (formally known as The MyTime Project) was a featured news item on BBC North West TV (2019). This inspired a theatre company (AllThingsConsidered) to work collaboratively with me and the children I support to create a verbatim theatre production, performed by professional actors, based on their interviews. The sell out play '8 Hours There and Back' was shown Feb 2022 over four performances with rave reviews. This production now has plans for a national and potentially international tour.
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 L, Livsey E. 2022. Tyler does not have Contact with his Dad in Prison Waterside Press. UK 9781914603174
Brookes L. 2021. Foreword: It’s not right! How children and young people, impacted by parental imprisonment, experience child rights :xvi-xxii 9781138283473
Brookes L. 2022. Striving, Thriving and Making a Difference. A conference with and for children impacted by parental imprisonment.
Brookes L. 2021. Time-Matters
Brookes L. 2021. Time Matters.What children with a parent in prison want you to know – ‘stigma, shame, judgement’. Publisher Url
Brookes L, Frankham J. 2021. The hidden voices of children and young people with a parent in prison: What schools need to know about supporting these vulnerable pupils International Journal of Educational Development, 81 DOI Author Url Publisher Url
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. 2020. Practical Support for Children with a Mother in Prison: Reflections from a Practitioner. Mothering from the Inside Research on motherhood and imprisonment Emerald Publishing Limited 9781789733440
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.
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. Practical Support for Children with a Mother in Prison. Reflections from a practitioner. Lockwood K. Edited Collection on Mothering and Imprisonment Emerald Publishing Ltd 978-1-78973-343-3 DOI Publisher 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
"My Zoom Time" 1:1 support over zoom for children with a parent in prison during the Covid-19 Pandemic UK Lockdown, Children of Incarcerated Parents: Striving and Thriving and Making a Difference, International Online, Oral presentation. 2021
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