Project helping women in prison stay in contact with their children gets funding boost
A project helping Welsh mothers in prison stay in touch with their children has been given further funding.
Visiting Mum is delivered by the Prison Advice & Care Trust (Pact) and identifies women at risk of losing contact with their children, offering to arrange visits and provide transport for them.
Women inmates from Wales have to serve out their sentences in England often at a considerable distance from their homes and families as there are no female jails the other side of the border.
The programme, which is run out of HMP Styal in Cheshire and HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire, supported 68 families between June 2021 and August 2022.
It was found to have improved wellbeing among mothers, reduced the risk of self-harm, while also improving the long-term outcomes of their children.
The Welsh Government and HM Prison and Probation Service announced on Friday they would continue to fund the scheme, with both contributing £90,000 each for the years 2023-24 to ensure the work can continue.
Mick Antoniw, counsel general and minister for the constitution, said: “We believe one of the key elements of the justice system should be rehabilitation.
“Justice is about more than courts and punishment; it is about people and families.
“Supporting people in prison to lead fulfilling lives when they are out of prison is an important responsibility of any effective approach to justice.
“The ‘Visiting Mum’ project is a positive example of this in action, with a rehabilitative approach leading to real benefits for both mothers and children.”
Nadia Emblin, from Pact, said: “While we believe that custodial sentences for women should only ever be used as a last resort, Visiting Mum ensures better outcomes for both mothers in custody and their children in the community.
“Our evaluation shows the positive impact of this kind of holistic support on the mental health and wellbeing of the whole family.
“It is also vital in reducing reoffending, as we know that prisoners who receive visits are 39% less likely to return to prison.
“We are hugely grateful to our partners at Change Grow Live, and to the Welsh Government and HMPPS for ensuring the scheme can continue.
“One mum recently told us that it offered ‘a light in the dark’ for her during her sentence, and we hope that we can provide this hope for many more women in the future.”
The Welsh Government has argued for the devolution of justice system and reducing the size of the prison population by lessening the use of “counterproductive” short sentences, saying their focus would be on prevention and rehabilitation.
Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2023, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Andrew Milligan / PA.