New support centre for families opened at Glenochil Prison
The Scottish Government has offered £1.8m to mitigate the effects on children of having a parent in prison
Glenochil Prison - Image credit: Brian Smith
A new visitor centre has been opened at Glenochil Prison to support the families of prisoners.
The visitor centre provides a space outside prison security for relatives of prisoners to access support and information ranging from a cup of tea to advice on issues such as housing, finance, health, domestic abuse and supporting children whose parents are behind bars.
The prison visitor centre at HMP Glenochil is run by a charity, Stirling Interfaith Community Justice Group (SICJG), which received £50,000 of grant funding from the Scottish Government to deliver the service.
An estimated 20,000 children a year are affected by parental imprisonment, an issue that is recognised as an adverse childhood experience with potential lifelong effects.
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To help combat the impact of having a parent in prison, the Scottish Government is providing £1.8m of funding to increase the provision of prison visitor centres.
The £1.8m funding will support the opening of three other new prison visitor centres this year, at Shotts, Low Moss and Inverness.
In addition, the funding will help to support existing facilities at Saughton, Addiewell, Perth, Grampian, Barlinnie, Polmont and Cornton Vale.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the Scottish Government wanted to make sure that the families and children affected by prison had access to the support they needed to deal with “what is often a very challenging situation”.
He said: “We know the children of prisoners face a number of additional challenges from a young age, with parental imprisonment having a negative impact on their long-term life chances and health.
“Prison visitor centres are vital to helping us break this cycle and are an example of the work the Scottish Government is doing to help give every child in Scotland the best possible start in life.”
Andrew McLellan, Chair of the National Prison Visitors Centre Steering Group, said he was delighted that “such great progress” was being made towards establishing a prison visitor centre at every prison in Scotland.
He said: “We know that supporting prisoners to maintain positive family ties reduces reoffending and makes Scotland safer.
“Yet prisoners’ families and prisoners’ children in particular often pay a very high price for their family member’s imprisonment.
“Too often financial difficulties, emotional trauma and a lack of support are all part and parcel of having someone in prison.
“The warm welcome and practical support these services offer make a huge difference to family members during what can be a very difficult time.”
All the prison visitor centres in Scotland are run by third sector organisations in partnership with the Scottish Prison Service.
They are supported and overseen by the National Prison Visitors Centre Steering Group (NPVCSG), a collaboration between public and third sector organisations including the Scottish Government, the Scottish Prison Service and the charities which provide the visitor centres.
A national performance framework for prison visitor centres, which all services are required to meet, was published by the NPVCSG in June.
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