A Volunteer's View

Post date: Monday 30th March, 2020

A great insight into volunteering with the Charity, "A Volunteer's View" at HMP YOI Cornton Vale

"Four years ago, I joined as a volunteer at the Cornton Vale’s Family Visitors Centre (The Hub), shortly after it opened. Before the Hub, visitors were seated in a waiting area with no facilities within the main prison. Visitors and guests experienced this waiting area as cold and unwelcoming. The centre was opened after the recommendations of Dame Elish Angiolini following a prison inspection. It has been proven that prisoners who have regular contact with their families are less likely to re-offend. Having a pleasant experience of visits will encourage more contact.

When a woman is taken into custody, it affects both herself and her family and friends. It can cause great stress to all involved. At the individual level, the prisoner has to deal with many overwhelming emotions and adjust to her new surroundings. There may be financial difficulties if she was the main breadwinner. The family have to cope with losing a family member. Further, if the prisoner has any children, they can be very negatively impacted, and face behavioural and emotional issues as part of the adjustment. The main role of the Family Centre is that it provides a warm, friendly and safe environment for the family to wait prior to the visit at Cornton Vale Prison.

Some of other volunteers have also shared their experiences below:

"It's a simple thing to offer a cup of tea and a biscuit to a visitor, but by doing so, I can help to make what may be a really difficult time for them just that little bit easier."

"We love the variety of people we meet and talk to on a regular basis. We have shared some sad times but have also had real laughs with visitors. We give… but we also get!"

"The centre is very welcoming and visitors are made to feel they are welcome and in a safe environment. I enjoy talking to visitors, answering any questions and generally making them feel better and maybe less anxious about their visit. I think we do make a difference by ensuring visitors are treated well and are all accepted."

"It is humbling to see how much effort and travelling is involved by the families and friends of a prisoner.It's a privilege to welcome/help them and be part of their experience. The visitor centre is a place for families and friends to refresh and relax and for children to have some playtime."