Prison Support Work (Scottish Prison Service & Serco)

Our Scottish Families support services can be contacted through a range of different channels –phone, webchat, email, etc. This allows families to get support when and where they need it most, but what about our communities who are serving a custodial sentence or on remand and therefore unable to access our support in the same way as the rest of the population?

To minimise this barrier, we are promoting our services through the Scottish Prison Service National Recovery Network. Scottish Families are a member organisation of this network and we promote our services through it. All of the prison establishments are represented on this network so they have access to our support information and how they can refer people into our services.

A brilliant piece of work was developed to support HMP Kilmarnock through the Community Links Drop-In. Previously a third sector organisation managed the throughcare support for the men leaving HMP Kilmarnock, however, when the funding for this was no longer available, an alternative was put in place before the third sector service withdrew. Scottish Families were invited to be part of this service and we have been offering direct support to the men for over a year now.

Community Justice Ayrshire now manages the coordination of the Community Links drop-in service. Services attend the drop-in every two weeks on a rota-basis. Each session has 10 services attending, offering a range of support with family support, addiction, recovery support, housing, counselling, employment, health and wellbeing, and advocacy.

The Scottish Families drop-in sessions are always popular as our Helpline Development Officer Suzie Gallagher takes in a lot of biscuits so the men have something to look forward to on top of receiving incredible support – it’s also an icebreaker to encourage the men to get involved. Suzie provides direct support to anybody who has a concern about their loved one’s alcohol and/or drug use. If the person has difficulties with their own alcohol and/or drug use, Suzie supports them too with a recovery peer from the local addiction support services. Suzie also arranges bereavement counselling support within HMP Kilmarnock for anyone who has lost a loved one to alcohol or drug-related death.

The Community Links Drop-In service is an incredible resource and we are passionate about carrying this on.

Emergency Services

The Police, Fire and Ambulance services regularly meet families impacted by someone else’s alcohol and/or drug use through their day-to-day work. Scottish Families have been working hard to build strong links with the emergency services to make sure families have accessed support in the easiest way possible.

We have delivered briefings to operational staff within Police, Fire and Ambulance services about Scottish Families’ support services, highlighting that appropriate support for families can have a positive impact on their loved one’s alcohol and/or drug use, and may then reduce the need for emergency services to be involved.

Scottish Families, Police Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service held an information day named ‘Caithness Initiative’ in Thurso. Fire service, health professionals, educational representatives, addiction services and community groups all came together to learn more about supporting families.

Suzie highlighted how therapeutic interventions for families (e.g. our support service Telehealth) can have a positive impact on their loved one and improve the wellbeing of the families. As Caithness is a rural area, this was a direct way to discuss the barriers affecting families and how our Telehealth service can support families. Since the information day, we have had an increase in referrals from Caithness which was previously under-represented.

We will continue working with the emergency services across Scotland to make sure the communities they serve can access our support should they need it.

‘I feel that Police Scotland have gone above and beyond what is required to support me. Without them, I wouldn’t have known that your service exists and now I have real hope for the future.’

‘It’s amazing to know that my local community officer still thinks of me 10 months after the death of my daughter and thought about me when he heard about your service. You assume that Police are relieved when your drug-using relative dies as it’s one less hassle for them to deal with but that is so not the case.’

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