Merry Caremas – Day 13 Having a loved one in prison this Christmas

Merry Carema

While others are buying Christmas presents and hanging decorations, you might not be feeling bright and bubbly about the Festive Period. It’s really hard to be going through the worst time when the rest of the world is wrapped in tinsel. If you have a loved one in prison, Christmas can be overshadowed, and in fact, it can feel like the spotlight is shining on the very thing you don’t want to think about or talk about.

Like other situations of loss or sadness, it is good to keep your family member in your thoughts and to feel able to talk about them, even though they can’t be with you. Visiting your loved one in prison is the thing that keeps the relationship alive, but visiting at Christmas and New Year can be tricky due to fewer prison staff being available, and so fewer visits can be offered at this time.

What can you do?

Try and be ready for Christmas, and don’t let it surprise you – prepare the kids, and talk about how things will be different this year.

Families can be financially impacted when a significant person goes to prison – and it’s stressful enough at this time of year. Plan how you might make things go further, or make some changes to your normal family traditions.

Visit as often as you can in the run-up to the Christmas period.

Take advantage of any Festive activities that the prison is laying on – each prison endeavours to organise some family-related activity over this time.

If you feel able to talk to family and friends, then lean on them at this difficult time.

Families Outside are the only national organisation in Scotland that works solely to support families affected by imprisonment. Our Support & Information Helpline supports more than 1750 contacts per year, and many families are worried and concerned about staying in touch and staying connected with their family member, not just at Christmas but during the whole year. For information and support, please call 0800 254 0088 Mondays to Friday 09:00 till 17:00, or see our website ( for webchat, texting, and email.

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