Formal opening for visitor centre.
A new visitor centre for the families of prisoners at Glenochil Prison has been officially opened by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.
The centre provides the families of those in custody with a welcoming space outside prison security where they can access support and information before or after their visit.
This can range from a cup of tea to more in-depth support addressing issues relating to housing, finance, mental and physical health, concern for children and domestic abuse.
An estimated 20,000 children are affected by parental imprisonment in any year in Scotland. The Scottish Government is providing £1.8 million to improve and increase the provision of prison visitor centres as a way of mitigating the negative impact parental imprisonment can have on children.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:
“We want to ensure those affected by the wider impact of prison - the families and children of those in custody - have access to the advice, information and support they need to deal with what is often a very challenging situation.
“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.”
Chair of the National Prison Visitors Centre Steering Group Andrew McLellan said:
“We are delighted to see such great progress towards achieving our ambition of a establishing a Prison Visitors Centre at every prison in Scotland. 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.”
Chief Executive of Families Outside Nancy Loucks said:
“Imprisonment of a family member is recognised as an Adverse Childhood Experience with significant lifelong effects. Prison Visitors Centres are therefore a critical resource for reaching some of Scotland’s most vulnerable families, and we welcome the Scottish Government’s investment in these services.
“It is vital that all public services recognise their role in supporting children and families affected by imprisonment, so they can live healthy, active lives, free from stigma and impediment.”
The prison visitor centre at HMP Glenochil is run by registered charity Stirling Interfaith Community Justice Group (SICJG) who applied for and received Scottish Government grant funding of £50,000 to deliver the service.
£1.8 million of Scottish Government funding is enabling four new prison visitor centres to open this year at HMP Glenochil, Shotts, Low Moss and Inverness.
The funding is also helping support the seven existing facilities at HMP Edinburgh, Addiewell, Perth, Grampian, Barlinnie, HMYOI Polmont and HMP & YOI Cornton Vale. All facilities are run by third sector organisations in partnership with the Scottish prison Service.
The funding supports the Programme for Government priority of reducing inequality and promoting social justice.
A National Performance Framework for Prison Visitor Centres was introduced in June which all services are required to meet.
Families Outside is a national Scottish charity that works solely on behalf of children and families affected by imprisonment.
The National Prison Visitors Centre Steering Group (NPVCSG) is a collaboration of organisations across the public and third sector, including the Scottish Government, The Scottish Prison Service and the charities which provide Prison Visitors Centres in Scotland. It works to provide a strategy for the creation and sustainable support for a prison visitor centre in every prison in Scotland, to support the organisations which deliver local services and to oversee national standards for Prison Visitors Centres.