Families Outside: training, workshops and lobbying

Categories: COPENews2015

Families Outside has been as busy as ever in 2015. Their main services and activities include providing freephone support and an information helpline, as well as direct support for children and families affected by imprisonment throughout Scotland. The organisation delivers training for all new prison officer recruits about the impact of imprisonment on families and their role in supporting these families, as well as training for staff regarding child protection.

Families Outside recognises the importance of training teachers to be able to support children affected by parental imprisonment in their work. The organisation therefore provides awareness-raising training which involves taking the teachers into prison to experience visiting a prison. Inside, Families Outside then delivers training on the impact of imprisonment on children and how they as teachers can support the young people in their schools. The teachers then receive posters and publications to take back to their schools along with materials they can include in the curriculum for their students. Other programmes include training for a range of other relevant professionals, such as social workers, Children’s Panel members, graduate students in Psychology and Law and the Judicial Institute.


Families Outside has continued to facilitate workshops with secondary school students on the impact of behaviour as part of the LifeTime programme (joint programme with the Scottish Prison Service, Red Cross, Police Scotland, the Fire Service, and the Scottish Court Service). Other workshops include music workshops  with arts-based charity Vox Liminus for dads in prison and their young children (these workshops currently take place in one prison, but thanks to new funding the work is to be extended to two more prisons over the next three years). The charity also organises music workshops with children and their fathers in prison in collaboration with “Dads Rock”, who work with the fathers and children while Families Outside offers information and discussion groups with the non-imprisoned mother and caregivers.

KIN, a partnership project between Vox Liminis and Families Outside, is a new step in opening up the conversation in Scotland around what young people experience and may need when a member of their family is imprisoned. Through this project, the two organisations facilitate peer support and the development of materials to raise awareness of the impact of a family member’s imprisonment amongst their age group (14-24 year olds).

Families Outside have set up a “Free Speech” project which trains young people in public speaking so they can tell their own stories and earn an income from this. They also facilitate a peer support group known as “Safe Place”.

As well as hosting the Parliamentary Cross-Party Group on Children & Families Affected by Imprisonment (thus far in 2015 hosting meetings led by families themselves; a Q&A with HM Chief Inspector of Prisons; and a session on opportunities to influence forthcoming legislation), Families Outside supported a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament for Child & Family Impact Assessments to be conducted when a parent goes to prison. They are currently working with Police Scotland to release a Family Contact Card that gives contact information to families at the point of arrest, and they contribute to Child & Family Development Groups in all Scottish prisons that have them. The organisation also facilitates the Criminal Justice Family Support Network, an informal alliance of organisations that support children and families affected by imprisonment.

Publications and Events

Families Outside has published Good Practice Guidance on working with families affected by imprisonment, as part of the CJ Family Support Network, and has released a Framework for Support to Families Affected by the Criminal Justice System, which is to be rolled out across Scotland. They are planning a family-led national conference for 1 December 2015 and are currently in discussions with HMP Grampian to take forward the “Go Daddy!” project introduced by Bambinisenzasbarre in Milan.  

For more information, please see: www.familiesoutside.org.uk

Author: Hannah Lynn