Lucy Gampell wins an OBE for helping the families of prisoners

As careers go, Lucy Gampell’s has been pretty unique.

The former director of Action for Prisoners’ Families, she has spent 15 years improving life for around 160,000 children a year who go through the experience of having a parent imprisoned. Her work has revolved around helping families keep up their ties and developing visitors centres in jails.

Unsurprising, then, that she has been honoured for her work. Ms Gampell, 47, received an OBE for her services to disadvantaged people in the New Year Honours, and is off to Buckingham Palace on February 12 for her investiture.

During her time, she raised awareness of the need to improve prison services for families. She tells People: “One of the most significant things has been the way prison visiting has changed, especially for children. Prisons now recognise how important visiting is.”

Another major improvement, she says, has been the introduction of play areas in some prisons, where children and parents can interact. Ms Gampell, who lives in Barnes, joined Action for Prisoners’ Families (APF) in 1993 having worked in community arts for socially excluded and disabled people. In 2003, APF set up the Prisoners’ Families Helpline, now a well-established information service for children and families. She left APF in 2008 and has been appointed an Independent member of the Parole Board.

“I was surprised to get the OBE. It is important recognition for the work of PFA — and not just for me.” As for going to the Palace, she says: “I am really excited although slightly panicking about what to wear in such cold weather.”

    Last updated: 10:15am, January 28 2010