We include young people with parents in prison

Commissioner Maxine tells us how reaching out to kids with parents in prison has really paid off

The project has gone from strength to strength... The kids love it. We know that a few have joined local Guiding or Scouting groups after taking part in sessions at the prison.  

Back in 2012, a prison was about to open in our area, and I'd volunteered to help out at the visitor's centre cafe. After going to a training session, I realised we could use our guiding experience to give more direct support to children - rather than just working in the cafe.

With my colleague Sally, I approached prison management and we offered to run a Guiding and Scouting programme in the visitor centre during visiting times. We got a positive response, so we met with local Scouting and the planning began.

Rewarding activities for children visting family members

We wanted to run structured and rewarding activities to encourage children to visit frequently and maintain their relationship with the family member in prison – which has been shown to reduce reoffending rates. It would also introduce girls and boys to Guiding and Scouting - perhaps encouraging them to join a unit - and we could also answer parents' questions.

It was uncertain how many young people would come along, how old they would be, or what level of participation to expect. So we based our initial planning on advice from the prison authorities, and our experiences running Joint Guiding and Scouting meetings for children in hospital.

It's gone from strength to strength

The project has gone from strength to strength, with a paid Development Officer bringing more training and support to Leaders. And the Scottish Prison Service has been great – they can't do enough for us. They've provided storage space and equipment and helped with promotion.

Some children who come along have short attention spans, but it's improved so so much in many of them.  The kids love it. We know that a few have joined local Guiding or Scouting groups after taking part in sessions at the prison.

Guiding is for all

Our advice on how to support girls with a family member in prison.