Opening the doors at the HMP Addiewell Visitor Centre

6 June 2023
HMP Addiewell Minions

As part of this year’s Scottish Prison Visitors’ Centre Roadshow, the Visitor Centre at HMP Addiewell opens its doors today to professionals from across the social sector to share the vital work that it does to support families with a loved one in prison.

HMP Addiewell Visitor Centre is a partnership between Sodexo Government Services and Cyrenians, open six days a week to offer advice and support to families. Last year, the centre supported over 1500 interactions with families, linking them into local services, offering advice regarding child benefits, and being a listening ear when people needed it most.

The Visitor Roadshow event is designed to give professionals insight into the experience of visiting a loved one inside prison, and the support available including the use of ‘Addie the Alpaca’ soft toys as transitional objects to help children and young people, among them young people with additional support needs, at what can be a very difficult time. Visitors will be able to learn from the team at Addiewell about the services they provide and the resources they have developed to open up conversations about trauma and healing between children and their loved ones held in the prison.  

The Cyrenians Visitor Centre team at Addiewell is the first in Scotland to be involved in training prison officers on child protection and trauma-informed practice. In early 2022 it also became the first Visitor Centre in Scotland to offer take-home Naloxone kits and training on their use to visitors, helping tackle the issue of overdose deaths among drug users released from prison.

Visitors will hear from family members who have been supported by the Centre, including one woman who volunteers with Cyrenians to share her views on lived experience of being a visitor and a victim. Speaking in the lead up to this event about the struggles she and her family have faced in the wake of her son’s conviction, discussing months of homelessness, unstable employment, the loss of her community and the impact on her health she said: “According to the Oxford Dictionary, a victim is someone who is “harmed, injured or killed as a result of crime, accident or other event or action”. My name is ……. I am a family member and I am a victim.”

Tess Hamilton, Manager at the Addiewell Visitor Centre, said, “We think it’s important for everyone involved in support to have a really clear insight into what families are dealing with. Even just getting through security to go into the visit hall can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, especially for small children, and we’ve had to offer really significant one on one support to some visitors just to get through it. We thought it would be really valuable to have this conversation in a space where we can show what we’re doing to ease that process.”

John Morrison, Interim Deputy Director, Sodexo Government Services added “The visitor centre roadshow is a great way for Cyrenians to showcase the amazing work it does daily. It is a pleasure to work collaboratively with Tess and the team, ensuring that friends and families who visit HMP Addiewell are given a warm welcome and a positive experience.”

Click here for more information about HMP Addiewell and the Cyrenians’ Visitor Centre