Minister hails Salvation Army's support for children affected by imprisonment
published on 15 Oct 2014
[Commissioner Robin Forsyth & Minister Aileen Campbell, MSP]
Scottish Government Minister Aileen Campbell today hailed a Salvation Army initiative designed to support children visiting family members at Edinburgh Prison.
Ms Campbell MSP, who is the Minister for Children and Young People, helped launch a series of information books by The Salvation Army that are created by children for children, to make visits easier and less distressing.
Every year around 50,000 people, 8,000 of which are children, pass through Scotland’s only purpose-built prison visitors’ centre – which is managed by the church and charity.
The experience of visiting a family member or friend behind bars can take its toll on young people, which is why The Salvation Army launched a parent and children’s support project in 2012 to offer meaningful support to children affected by imprisonment. The ground-breaking project, which saw the appointment of a support worker, has been hailed a success by all concerned.
Now The Salvation Army is hoping the latest stage of the project will offer additional support. Parent and children’s support Worker Nicola Ceesay has worked with young people at the visitors’ centre to create a series of bright, colourful and easy-to-read information booklets.
The booklets – called Visiting Mum, Visiting Dad, and A Parents’ Guide – feature artwork by visiting children and a step-by-step guide to the workings of the prison.
Ms Campbell MSP agreed the booklets were a fantastic idea and said: “I’d like to thank The Salvation Army and Scottish Prison Service for all their work in creating them.
“The impact of imprisonment can be significant and enduring for children and it’s vital we do all we can to help them manage the challenges of having a parent in prison. Children often find visiting a prison difficult and these booklets will help them cope better while visiting their mums and dads.”
Kerry Watson, co-ordinator of the centre, said: “One of our main aims at the visitors’ centre is to provide support and information to everyone who walks through the door. It’s at this first point of contact we’re able to build positive relationships with people, especially children, who may be marginalised in their communities.
“These information booklets are part of our parent and children’s support project to provide meaningful support to kids affected by imprisonment.
“We’re delighted to welcome the Minister here today and hopefully today’s event will help raise the profile of our work, much of which relies on funding from donations.”
Teresa Madhurst, Governor of HMP Edinburgh, said: “Prison can be intimidating places for people to visit but The Salvation Army provides an environment that gives people an opportunity to talk and be signposted to community service if necessary.
“It’s a focal point, which is the important thing and The Salvation Army does that extremely well. We’re delighted that the Army is doing that at Edinburgh prison.”