New HMP Grampian initiative is already improving relationships between children and their parents
Children visiting mums and dads at Grampian prison are getting to play football, lacrosse and other sports in a groundbreaking new initiative to reduce offending.
Every Wednesday it sees Streetsport staff setting up goal posts and other equipment in HMP Grampian and coaching up to 15 families, who would otherwise be stuck at traditional visitor tables.
The Stronger Families Inside Out programme, which has been running for three months, is already improving visits for children and their parents.
One mum said: “Prison visits are hard on kids and my eight year old daughter found them so difficult that she hadn’t seen her dad in a few years.
“The Stronger Families Inside Out project makes the visits much more fun and interactive. She now looks forward to visiting her dad and has built a much better relationship with him. She is happier, more confident…. a different child.
“This Families Outside project is amazing, I’ve not heard of anything else that gives children the opportunity to maintain their relationships with their parents in such a positive and unique way.”
It is hoped that bringing sport into the prison visitor system will help reduce reoffending, strengthen family ties and improve the wellbeing of prisoner’s children, who themselves three times more likely to engage in anti-social behaviour or offending.
Children of offenders are also more likely to struggle with mental health problems.
Research shows regular contact with parents is crucial in maintaining children’s emotional wellbeing and resilience. It is also known that prisoners who maintain contact with their families are up to six times less likely to reoffend.
Nancy Loucks, chief executive of Families Outside, said: “We are very excited to be working alongside Streetsport to deliver more meaningful family contact at HMP Grampian.
“The Stronger Families Inside Out project is already providing a unique platform to strengthen family ties, which in turn will improve children’s general wellbeing, reduce the risk they will become involved in offending, and reduce reoffending in our current prison population - three incredibly positive outcomes that all lead to a safer Scotland for all.”
Mark Williams, chief executive of the Denis Law Legacy Trust, said: “This project is something we have wanted to do for a while now and it’s fantastic to see the impact it’s having already. Helping break the circle of imprisonment in young people is a hugely rewarding motivator and the partnership working involved has everyone excited and driven to make a difference for both young people and the communities they come from.”
Scottish Government figures estimate that 20,000 children each year in Scotland have a parent in prison, more than are affected by divorce.
The Stronger Families Inside Out programme is funded by Children in Need.