The Croft has been supporting people visiting HMP Barlinnie since 2012. Staff and volunteers are based in the Waiting Area of the prison before most visits to speak with visitors. You can also book a support chat at the prison or on the phone if you’d rather speak with someone one-to-one or contact us via the website and we can answer your questions via email.
Croft staff welcome visitors and support them to have a better visit, using an assertive outreach approach. This includes giving people information about visit procedures, how to claim travel expenses and additional support that is available. Croft staff speak with a range of people at HMP Barlinnie, partners and parents of prisoners and also friends, siblings and other relatives.
“Thanks for putting me in touch with the Family Support Worker (from Families Outside), she’s been a great help and is really down-to-earth. She listens to me, she gets me and gets what I need. I know that I can phone her anytime”
Some people choose to speak to us regularly on their visits, others once or twice to sort out an immediate issue or concern. Of the people who we speak to regularly, some will also be working with other organisations. The Croft can provide combined support with other organisations, providing a meeting space, updating and reassuring people on changes in circumstances.
“He (prisoner) said to me to thank everyone at the Croft for all the help you’ve given our family. He wanted you to know how grateful he is and how it makes it easier knowing I have someone to talk to and I know I can come to you when I’m feeling anxious.”
Many of the people that the Croft supports have never been in a prison environment before and are often in shock about their situation. People can be apprehensive about accessing support both due to stigma around having someone in prison and potentially having had previous poor experiences with agencies. Croft staff work to build relationships with visitors to allow them to feel comfortable accessing support.
“I know that I can rely on the Croft being here if I need to check anything. I get really stressed and confused, you guys help calm me down and explain things.”
Croft staff provide free fruit, colouring in and books for children and young people. We also run awareness raising weeks during the year, including giving out Bookbug bags and books for older children.
“The fruit is lovely and fresh, great for the wee ones.”
“The pictures in the books are lovely, thank you.” (girl aged 8)
In 2011, St. Enoch’s, Hogganfield church and other local churches and organisations came together due to their concern about the welfare of prisoners’ families in HMP Barlinnie, Glasgow. HMP Barlinnie is the largest prison in Scotland but had no Visitors’ Centre and there were no plans to develop one. The group was aware that a wide range of people visit Barlinnie, with a variety of potential needs and requirements, including visitors of all ages and those travelling from across Scotland and beyond.
“Thank you, you really helped me so much and are so understanding of what I’m going through”
In 2012, the Croft was set up as a Visitors’ Centre for HMP Barlinnie. Staff were based in St. Enoch’s, Hogganfield church hall, offering a drop in 2 afternoons per week. In 2013, The Croft developed to provide more of the service in the public areas of HMP Barlinnie, including a stall in the Atrium and the Family Information Hub in the prison Waiting Area and also added an evening support session. In 2014, The Croft constituted as a Scottish Charity Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) and became an independent charity. In 2015, The Croft and other voluntary sector agencies were given access to the Family Services Room in the Atrium, allowing more contact with and support for visitors and in 2017 a glass Pod was opened in the Atrium to allow for confidential appointments. In 2018 we supported 7000 adults and 2000 children and are continuing to develop with new staff starting in January 2019.
“I only ever visit on a Tuesday and there hasn’t been anyone here then before, it’s great to have someone to speak to”