How prisoners get parental support

Emily Rogers
Monday, July 6, 2015

Project minimises the impact of parental imprisonment on children and families.

Support workers meet prisoners and their families regularly to address practical, emotional and relationship problems
Support workers meet prisoners and their families regularly to address practical, emotional and relationship problems

Project: Families Affected By Imprisonment (Fabi)

Purpose: To minimise the impact of parental imprisonment on children and families

Funding: Running costs of roughly £500,000 per year from the Scottish Government's Reducing Reoffending Change Fund, Big Lottery Fund, Sodexo and The Robertson Trust

Background: In 2007, Scottish family support charity Circle was commissioned by The Robertson Trust to research the needs of women prisoners at Cornton Vale prison in Stirling. It went on to deliver one-to-one support to mothers and their families and in 2009 gained further funding to work with fathers due to leave Addiewell Prison in West Lothian.

In 2013, Circle was funded by the Scottish Government to provide family support to mothers and fathers in prison as part of two public social partnership mentoring projects - Shine, for women in prison, and New Routes, for prolific male offenders aged between 16 and 25. These projects, combined with Circle's work at Addiewell, make up its Fabi project.

Action: Fabi's team of 11 family support workers cover central Scotland and aim to build the self-esteem and resilience of a client's whole family by supporting them until at least six months after release.

Parents are referred by prison staff or other professionals or can refer themselves. Circle's support workers meet regularly with them and their families in prison and the community, helping address their most challenging problems through practical, emotional and relationship support. They also help with parenting skills.

Fabi's work is "solution-focused", explains project manager Georgina Lyttle. "We listen to our parents and families and recognise their inherent strength and resilience," she says.

Outcome: A total of 131 families were referred to the Shine and New Routes schemes between April last year and March this year, with 54 cases closed. At Addiewell, 31 referrals were made, with seven cases closed.

Circle's figures show 140 families improved their health and wellbeing due to changes such as stopping or reducing drug and alcohol misuse, 115 improved their financial situation and 137 had improved housing. In addition, 74 parents or couples started to spend more time with their children, and 39 parents or couples encouraged children to engage more in school and community activities. Parents in 86 families were supported to reduce the frequency and severity of their offending.

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