Holy Trinity Scottish Episcopal Church, Stirling

Social action

At Holy Trinity, we believe in expressing Christian love through social action. We are associated with three important overseas missions and we support several local and national charitable and missionary organisations.

Stirling Interfaith Community Justice Group

Each year at the Annual Congregational Meeting the congregation chooses a charity to support in the year ahead.  Holy Trinity’s chosen charity for the year 2016-17 is Stirling Interfaith Community Justice Group.

Stirling Interfaith Community Justice Group (SICJG).was set up as a charity in 2011 by members of Stirling churches and other faith communities. The group believes that faith communities have a key role in supporting families and individuals affected by imprisonment.  One of the main motives for its establishment was concern about the lack of support for families, and the inadequate visitor facilities, at the national women’s’ prison at Cornton Vale, Stirling.. Following discussions with the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), it was agreed that the SPS would provide premises near the prison from which SICJG would operate a prison visitor centre to provide support to families and friends visiting women at the prison.

The Family Centre and Help Hub at HMP Cornton Vale

The Family Centre and Help Hub or “Hub”, as the visitor centre is known, has been operating since August 2013. SICJG employ a Centre Manager, Centre Officer and a Project Administrator and a pool of around 50 volunteers ensure that the Hub is open for every prison visit session. The Hub aims to provide a supportive, friendly and welcoming environment for families visiting a prisoner. During the first 3 years of the project there were 18027 adult and 3295 childrens’ visits to the Hub. Support is provided by staff and trained volunteers to ensure experiences of prison visiting are less stressful and more positive, thereby encouraging more frequent visits and maintaining family ties. In addition, the Hub delivers a range of support, information and advice not only in relation to prison but on a range of topics such as benefits and finance, parenting support and healthy living. Partner agencies also visit the hub to deliver services to families.

The Future of HMP Cornton Vale

There has been much discussion about the future of Cornton Vale prison over the last few years.  Cornton Vale, which was built in 1975, has had a somewhat tarnished history including a high level of inmate suicides. Despite attempts to improve conditions, the Scottish Government decided Cornton Vale would close after a 2012 report by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini said it was "not fit for purpose".

The latest proposals are that the current facilities at Cornton Vale are to be demolished and a smaller prison accommodating up to 80 women will be built on the same site by 2018. This will be supplemented by 5 regional centres across the country accommodating up to 20 women each, to be in place by 2020. In anticipation of these changes a number of women prisoners have been transferred from Cornton Vale to Polmont Prison. Around 85 women prisoners remain at Cornton Vale and the Hub continues to provide services to them and their families.

The Governor of Cornton Vale has made it clear that she envisages an ongoing role for the Hub during this period of change and in the future w

hen new prison facilities are built at the Cornton Vale site. The Group has recently secured core funding from the Scottish Government to operate the Hub in 2017-18 and it is hoped that such funding will continue in the future.

A new Visitor Centre at HMP Glenochil, Tullibody

In addition to the work at Cornton Vale, SICJG has also been awarded funds towards the development and running of a new visitor centre at Glenochil prison in Tullibody. This new centre opened in April 2017.

While the grant from the Scottish Government will provide most of the funding requirements to run the centre, the Group continue to be reliant on the some additional local fundraising from supportive churches and individuals to address all the costs involved in delivering these projects.

If you would like to find out more about how you can support SICJG, or about volunteering at the Prison Visitor Centres please get in touch:

Andrew Pont, Trustee and Treasurer Stirling Interfaith Community Justice Group  email: gandapont@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

The Family Hub at Cornton Prison