Posted: Fri 20th Jan 2023

Further funding for project helping women in prison keep in touch with their children

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jan 20th, 2023

Welsh mothers in prison will continue to receive vital support to maintain positive relationships with their children, thanks to further funding confirmed for a pioneering project.

Delivered by the Prison Advice & Care Trust (PACT), ‘Visiting Mum’ operates from HMP Styal in Cheshire and HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire, the two most common locations for Welsh women serving custodial sentences in England.

As there are no women’s prisons in Wales, many mothers are sent to facilities far from their homes and families. The service aims to strengthen family ties by facilitating closer contact between mothers and their children.

Around half of women in prison are mothers and the service identifies those at risk of losing contact with their children, providing specialist support and arranging visits, parenting and relationship programmes, transport for children, and wraparound care for children after their visit.

An evaluation of the project found it to be improving the wellbeing of mothers and reducing the risk of self-harm, while also improving long-term outcomes for their children.

Between June 2021 and August 2022, ‘Visiting Mum’ supported 68 families. The project is jointly funded by the Welsh Government and the HM Prison and Probation Service, with both contributing £90,000 in 2023-24 to ensure its continuation.

Nadia Emblin, Pact Head of Service Delivery and Development – Wales and Western England, commented:

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.

Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice, said:

Our approach to women’s justice stresses the importance of working with women in contact with the justice system in a holistic and rehabilitative way.

We continue to believe prison sentences should be a last resort, and are supportive of the proposed Residential Women’s Centre in Swansea which will provide an alternative to a prison sentence.

But for women who are in prison, often with long distances between themselves and their family, Visiting Mum can be an invaluable service that keeps them in contact with the people they love.

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.



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