A project has been launched to support families with relatives in prison.
The Keeping It Together project was officially launched yesterday at Aberdeen Sheriff Court. It involves Families Outside, Action for Children and Alcohol and Drugs Action (ADA).
The organisations were brought together by Community Planning Aberdeen (CPA) to offer advice, information and support to families with a loved one involved in the criminal justice process, right from arrest up to after their release from prison.
Families Outside family support manger Lindsay Jessiman said: “This project is really recognising that lots of families affected by imprisonment were just not getting support early enough and that by the time they were presenting at their first prison visit or phoning up the Families Outside helpline they’d already been through months of anguish with no information, no support and really just feeling lost and not knowing there was anything out there in terms of support.
“There’s a whole complex web of issues which can affect families.”
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As part of the project a video was created to walk people through the experience of visiting someone in HMP Grampian.
The film is the first of its kind in Scotland
One woman, who did not want to be named, said she has received help and support from the family centre and help hub at HMP Grampian while her brother is in prison, adding: “Since the family centre and the help hub, they support you so much and you know the process that they’re going through.”
Pamela Simpson, project lead and manager of the family centre and help hub at the prison, said: “Don’t struggle and suffer in silence.
“People are there to help.”
Allister Purdie, governor of HMP Grampian, said: “We understand the impact a prison sentence can have on a family.
“This project, the collaborative approach, helps us support the family and those in our care to actually make the visit experience and the wider custodial experience a positive event.”
Cat Govan, service manager at ADA, said: “There’s lots of research that if the family is involved in that person’s recovery from criminal justice or from drugs and alcohol that person is much more likely to be successful in moving on with their own lives.”
Val Vertigans, community justice officer for Aberdeen City Council, was involved in pulling the project together.
She said: “There’s definitely been a gap in the market in terms of support for families who may find a family member has suddenly got involved in offending behaviour and in the justice system and they’ve been kind of left in the lurch a little bit and there’s massive implications for them.”