The Foundation

Founded out of a deep need,
to help children of prisoners

The imprisonment of a person is fundamentally not only a punishment for the person concerned, but always also for his or her family. Around 1.54 million people are currently imprisoned in European countries. This means that more than 2 million children grow up in Europe, at least one of whose parents spends an important period of their childhood in prison – and worldwide the figures are much higher!

Lost childhood, little future

The situation often puts
a lot of stress on the children

However, far too little is said about this in public. It is not only about the mostly criminal environment in which these children grow up, but also about the fundamental excessive demands in dealing with this situation and the lack of or insufficient child-friendly contact opportunities with the imprisoned parent. Regular contact with their children and the sustained support of a parent-child bond by third parties have also been shown to play an important role in the resocialization of incarcerated persons. A political action plan for this is partly on the agenda, but its implementation is still a long way off.
Therefore, Connecting Hearts was established in 2022 as a dependent charitable foundation in cooperation with our trustee, ChildFund Stiftung gGmbH. Our goal is to connect people and projects that stand up for children of prisoners.

Who we are

We are the Connecting Hearts Foundation

Behind Connecting Hearts are many personalities with very different backgrounds. Each of us is an expert in a different field, which makes our collaboration so exciting. We work closely together, enjoy strong international networking, and look forward to making a tangible difference in the lives of children of prisoners. Get to know us better.

The Founder

Oliver Drews

CEO Telio Group

Hamburg-based entrepreneur Oliver Drews is the founder of Connecting Hearts and has worked for the Telio Group for almost 20 years. In his position as CEO of the communication and media systems company, his goal has always been to find the right balance between contact and control. Telio Group develops and delivers communication solutions for ministries and prisons in 20 countries around the world. All Telio products are designed to make an important contribution to the resocialization of inmates. Seeing an urgent need to advocate and build a lobby for the many children of prisoners, Oliver Drews founded Connecting Hearts in 2022.

Advisory Board

Peter van der Sande

Former President Intern. Corrections & Prisons Associations (ICPA)
Peter van der Sande is the former president of the International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA) in The Hague. The ICPA's goal is to promote standards for effective and humane correctional practices. For van der Sande, incarceration should be a last resort. Before working for the ICPA, van der Sande was head of the Dutch Prison Service for almost 12 years. To this day, he is a board member of several organizations in the field of justice and human rights.

Pedro das Neves

CEO – Innovative Prison Systems
Pedro das Neves is CEO of Innovative Prison Systems (IPS). Since 2001 he has been working on the innovation of criminal justice in Europe, North and Latin America. As a policy and program consultant for various prison administrations, government and multilateral international organizations, das Neves has visited more than 1000 prisons and juvenile detention centers in recent years. He founded „Justice Trends” magazine, which focuses on innovation and best practices in prisons and probation and is board member of multiple NGOs working in corrections, including the International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA) and the European Association for Social Innovation (EaSI).

Prof. Dr. Renate Zimmer

Educationalist and Professor of Sports Science (University of Osnabrück)
Prof. Dr. Zimmer is involved both in research and in her own practice in promoting children's development and strengthening their resilience. She has written numerous books on the topics of psychomotricity, movement, language support, etc., which have been translated into numerous languages. In addition to her research and teaching activities at the University of Osnabrück, she is co-founder of the Lower Saxony Institute for Early Childhood Education and Development (nifbe) and was its director until 2018. In 2007, she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for her educational and socio-political commitment to children.

Board of Trustees

Fabian Gewald

Tax consultant – Gewald Steuerberatungsgesellschaft
Fabian Gewald is a Hamburg based tax consultant. In his work, he focuses on consulting medium-sized companies in all areas of the tax law.

Kai Thiel

Managing Director – Telio Group
Kai Thiel is Managing Director of the Telio Group. Based in Düsseldorf, Germany, he worked for the technology company BT before. The telecommunications expert wants to raise awareness for the children of prisoners as he is convinced that over 2 million European children growing up with a parent in prison are way too many.

Dr. Dominik Ziegenhahn

Attorney at Law, Mediator
Dr. Dominik Ziegenhahn is a partner in the Hamburg law firm RASCHKE VON KNOBELSDORFF HEISER. He specializes in advising entrepreneurs and companies, financial investors and associations on corporate law and corporate transactions. However, his area of practice also includes (voluntary) advising non-profit associations and foundations.

Ulf Ziegler

Managing Partner – Ziegler Company
Ulf has been one of Germany's leading communications experts for more than 20 years. With his consulting company Ziegler Company GmbH, he helps companies and institutions to manage success-critical change situations, corporate crises and conflicts. At the same time, he is passionately committed to charitable institutions and projects, especially in the field of child and youth welfare. A special concern for him is the support of socially disadvantaged children who suffer particularly from the consequences of an incarcerated parent.