In the run up to Christmas, Families Outside was delighted to receive a large number of gifts from organisations, community groups, individuals, and churches including Greyfriars Church in Lanark and the Swanshine Project in Edinburgh.
We gave these gifts to children of the families we support and to children visiting prisons in Scotland during the Christmas period.    One family member was brought to tears, as she was overwhelmed at the kindness and generosity of the gifts she received for her daughter and herself. The family had been homeless, then in temporary furnished accommodation, and had only moved into permanent accommodation the week before Christmas. Mum had no money, as her benefits had changed, stopped, and started over an 8-week period.   If they had not received these gifts, they would have had no presents at all. The family would like to say “thank you very much for your support; it really did make all the difference!”   Another family had experienced significant financial difficulties throughout 2017 including benefit change, rent and council tax arrears, debts, and Welfare Reforms. Mum suffers from long and enduring mental ill health, in addition to experiencing her partner’s imprisonment and all it entails.
Christmas was going to be difficult financially and emotionally, and although Mum had applied for a budgeting loan to cover the cost of Christmas, she did not receive an award. This meant that the gifts they received through Families Outside were the only presents her daughter received on Christmas Day. Both mum and daughter are extremely grateful for your kind donations.   A large number of the presents were donated to HMP Low Moss & HMP Greenock for their children’s Christmas parties, Family Contact Officers have informed us that the children were delighted to receive a present at the parties. In particular, a number of the dads expressed their appreciation and gratitude at having the opportunity to be able to give their children a present for Christmas personally.
If you would like to make a donation to families affected by imprisonment, either in cash or in kind, please visit www.familiesoutside.org.uk/donate or call 0131 557 9800.

Smoke-Free Prison Environment
On 30th November 2018, Scottish Prisons are going smoke-free. After this date, tobacco products and smoking paraphernalia will be prohibited items in all Scottish prisons.
Currently between 70 and 80 per cent of prisoners smoke, so this will be a significant change.
Families Outside is extremely pleased that the SPS will be working with partner agencies to develop a wide range of supports and interventions to assist those in prison to give up smoking. We particularly welcome the recognition and inclusion of families as key stakeholders in this discussion: having families on side should ease the difficulties of enforced abstinence, while having them acting in opposition would no doubt enflame the situation.
Over the course of the next few months, Families Outside will continue to work with families, helping to ensure that they are both informed and included in the process.
Information will also be made available to families via prison visitor centres, including information sessions and discussion groups with prison, NHS, and visitor centre staff.
Prison visitor centres often have positive working relationships with community-based NHS staff. The visitor centre at HMP Addiewell, for example, recently won an award alongside NHS Lanarkshire for their work on smoking cessation. These are good examples that can be built upon to support families in creating smoke-free prisons.
If you would like more information on Smoke-Free Prisons in Scotland, or are concerned about the wellbeing of a family member in prison, please call the Families Outside Helpline on 0800 254 0088.

Case Study
Pete and Jane have two young children. They live in a happy home where Pete is the main carer and earner.   In July 2016, Pete was sentenced to 3 years in prison.   Shunned by her community, friends, and family, Jane struggled to balance work and family life. She started to get into debt, her physical health deteriorated, and she began to suffer from anxiety and depression.
As Jane’s mental health declined, her family became more and more affected, especially her eldest son John, aged 7, who began to show challenging behaviour at home and at school.
Read more >

Research & Publications
To launch our involvement in the Scottish Government’s Year of the Young Person, we are pleased to announce the launch of the next edition of our In Brief research series, due for publication in February.
In Brief 13, entitled “The impact of parental imprisonment: an exploration into the perspectives and experiences of children and young people affected,” comes from Maria McGinley’s Masters research at the University of Strathclyde. Watch this space for more information.

Training & Events
Out of the Shadows is  one of Families Outside’s multi-agency training sessions, bringing into the spotlight the issues facing families affected by imprisonment and how to improve support for them.
The sessions are interactive, with a mix of presentation, exercises, case studies, and small group discussions, aiming to give participants a better understanding of the challenges, including stigma, that families face and an opportunity to reflect on their own role in supporting families through the criminal justice journey.
Visit www.familiesoutside.org.uk/training for more information on our training opportunities, or contact our Training Manager, Susan Cross.