prison

Children’s charity launches new prison support service for families

Aberlour – Scotland’s children’s charity has launched a new family support service delivered in partnership with the Scottish Prison Service and NHS Dumfries and Galloway Alcohol and Drugs Partnership to help family members returning from prison re-integrate back into family life.

According to the latest Scottish Government statistics, it is estimated that roughly 27,000 children in Scotland are affected by a parent going into prison every year, around double the number of children affected by divorce.

Research also shows that having a parent or family member in prison can have a serious impact on a child’s well-being and mental health, which can often be displayed through anti-social behaviour.

Funded by the Scottish Government Challenge Fund, the new Aberlour Families2gether support service will work with short-term prisoners at HMP Dumfries whose sentence is less than four years, those on remand, and those on a Home Detention Curfew from 12 weeks prior to their release and during the first six months after release to help ease the crucial process of integrating back into the family home.

David Barr, Associate Director at Families2gether, Aberlour Child Care Trust, said: “At Aberlour, we believe that every child should have the same opportunities and experiences in life, no matter their family situation. We understand that an absent family member can severely affect children’s mental health and emotional well-being. The key focus of Families2gether is to help bring families back together and rebuild a safe and welcoming family home.”

Transitioning from prison back into family life can have a major emotional strain on the whole family, and during this extremely vulnerable period, having a parent return from prison back into the family home can lead to a break-down of family relationships.

Studies show that by ensuring ex-offenders have meaningful contact with their families prior to release, they are six times less likely to re-offend .

David Barr, Associate Director at Families2gether, Aberlour Child Care Trust, said: “The move from prison to home is a crucial period for the family member returning home and their families. Bespoke sessions with Aberlour Family Support Workers offer emotional support and guidance for parents returning from prison and their families to ensure this often-difficult process is safe and positive for both parties. The Family Support Worker also works closely with the relatives of those in prison to help with practical tasks in the family home, such as budgeting and meal preparations.”

“We currently have five Family Support Workers across Dumfries and Galloway. Over the next few months we hope to recruit two new Family Support Workers to help those affected by a family member in prison. I’d encourage anyone interested in making a positive difference to families in Dumfries and Galloway to get in touch and find out more.”

Stuart Pomfret for Scottish Prison Support Service, added: “The Scottish Prison Service is committed to supporting people leaving our care and returning to their communities and their families. Successful transition involves support being offered to families throughout an individual’s time in custody and on their release. We recognise that such positive relationships can make a valuable contribution in supporting offenders to desist from further offending.

“The new Aberlour Families2gether support service in Dumfries and Galloway will ensure families affected by a relative in prison receive the best support available. Aberlour’s Family Support Workers and Scottish Prison Service staff will provide family members returning from prison and their families with person-centred support and guidance to ensure they reintegrate safely and smoothly back into family life.”

Jackie Davies, Alcohol and Drugs Partnership Co-ordinator for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: “Dumfries and Galloway ADP are delighted to support Aberlour’s Families2gether service. The ADP are committed to supporting families with a relative in prison who are affected by drug and alcohol misuse. Families2gether will enable offenders to rebuild family relationships and with Aberlour’s help, link in with other service providers to address the range of issues that surround drug and alcohol misuse”.

If you would like to find out more about becoming an Aberlour Family Support Worker, please get in touch by emailing volunteering@aberlour.org.uk or calling Families2gether on 01387 279 279.

For more on Aberlour go to: www.aberlour.org.uk/