Social Support

Social Support

Improving the welfare of incarcerated children and helping rehabilitation

The Undikumbukire Project Zambia (UP Zambia) social services was established in 2019 after recognising that incarcerated children need more than a lawyer to represent them in court. The UP Zambia Social Support team observed that children who end up in the criminal justice system in Zambia arrive with substance abuse problems, lack family support and face difficult social and economic situations.  An estimated 80% of children entering the justice system struggle with substance abuse.

Confined in overcrowded facilities often shared with adults, lack of essential basic services and provisions whilst in custody / detention facilities, children are at high risk of mental health disorders and can present complex psychopathologies. Once released, children have very little social support, face stigma from their communities, and often end up re-offending. 

UP Zambia assesses children’s needs, provides counselling, family support groups, opportunity to participate in sports and art, and linkages to education. These activities help children to reintegrate after they are released from custody or detention facilities and help prevent relapse into a cycle of crime. UP Zambia Social Services also works closely with children in the community who haven’t been detained but are at high risk of offending.

Child Counselling and Family Support Groups

Children facing the criminal justice system often come from extremely challenging backgrounds with a range of complex issues. We offer either group counselling sessions or one-to-one support to provide a safe space for children to express their emotions and start the journey towards positive behavioural change. 

If the parents or guardians are unaware of the child’s presence at the correctional facility we make efforts to trace and connect with the parents or guardians so children are connected to their parents and vice versa.

We recognise the important role that parents play in their child’s journey through the justice system and their reintegration into the community once released. Our family support groups facilitate family therapy, urging parents to visit their child at the correctional facility and attend court sessions when the child’s case is heard. This process not only involves addressing the immediate legal situation but also aims to strengthen family bonds and provide support during a challenging time. By actively involving families in the rehabilitation process, we seek to contribute to the overall well-being and successful reintegration of the child into society.

Child counselling and family support groups are facilitated by highly qualified psychologists, family therapist and social workers who help parents to improve parenting techniques, parental-child bonding and support for children released from custody / detention facilities.


Mentorship programme

In 2021-2023 UP Zambia Social Support team piloted a Mentorship programme for teens that works with both children who had been released from detention facilities in Zambia as well as high risk children in the community. We combined child group therapy with sports activities, art sessions, child counselling,  as well as parental support groups to improve parenting skills and saw a drastic reduction in anti-social behaviour, substance abuse and crime amongst participating children and youth. 

The Mentorship programmes have been done in Chainda, Misisi and Kanyama compounds of Lusaka, as well as Katombora and Nakambala Reformatory Schools in Zambia.


Food and Clothes Donations

Our team works with a population that comes to the detention facilities at their most vulnerable.  They often lack basic items like clothes, food and hygiene items. UP Zambia has been providing food and clothes donations when resources allow.

UP Zambia Social Services have received funding from the European Commission, GIZ, UNODC and the Japanese Embassy to enable us to work with vulnerable groups of children and their communities.