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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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New prison visitor centre officially opened

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The family facility at HMP Glenochil is operated by Stirling Interfaith Community Justice Group

A new visitor centre for the families of prisoners at HMP Glenochil has officially opened.

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.

It is operated by registered charity Stirling Interfaith Community Justice Group (SICJG), who received Scottish Government grant funding of £50,000 to deliver the service.

The services the centre provides 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 officially opened the centre at the Clackmannanshire prison this week.

He 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.”

Chair of the National Prison Visitors Centre Steering Group Andrew McLellan said: “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.”

£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.