Project gives female inmates the opportunity to connect with their children this Christmas.
Female prisoners are sending personalised cards and gifts home this Christmas thanks to support from a Scottish charity.
Families Outside has partnered with the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and creative agency APS Group to spearhead the initiative at HMP Edinburgh.
The charity hopes the project can help bridge the gap between mothers in prison and their children.
An estimated 20,000 – 27,000 children in Scotland have a parent in prison, with their absence often most keenly felt during the festive period.
The imprisonment of a household member is one of ten adverse childhood experiences known to have a significant negative impact on children’s long-term health and wellbeing, school attainment, and later life experiences.
Hazel Anderson, Families Outside’s regional family support co-ordinator, said: “Women in prison receive far less contact than their male counterparts; this is in part due to the children having to rely on other people. With the rising prison population, more and more mothers are being sent from further and further afield, for example HMP Edinburgh now receives the overflow from HMP Grampian and therefore visiting prison can be extremely time consuming, and expensive - both factors make contact extremely difficult for children and young people.
“For the second year running we are working with the SPS at HMP Edinburgh to create bespoke Christmas Eve boxes. This year the gifts include a handmade card from mum, some Christmas pyjamas and, thanks to support from Waterstones and Marks & Spencer, a book and a chocolate treat. This project is about helping a child feel more connected to their mum at Christmas”.
The charity said SPS staff at the prison have been “extremely supportive” of the project.
David Abernethy, prison governor, said: “When Families Outside asked us to support this project it was a no-brainer to say yes.
“Christmas is such a family time of the year and one of the greatest joys of Christmas for a parent or grandparent is the giving of a gift to a child.
“There are five prisons in Scotland with women, I would think every governor in all those prisons would jump at the chance of being involved in a project like this.”
Families Outside now hopes to roll out the project to other prisons in the future.