Janie Walthew has spent the last six years working with families awaiting visits to prisoners in Cloverhill Remand Prison.
As manager of a facility which catered solely for the needs of prisoners’ families, she saw just how difficult it is for people to find out accurate information, such as which prison their relative is being held in, how to get to it, visiting hours, what they could bring – if anything.
Having a relative or close friend in prison is a stressful and confusing experience and lack of such information can make life so much worse. Limited or inaccurate information can lead to family members turning up at the wrong prison, at the wrong time, with the wrong items, often not knowing what charges their relative faces.
Children are particularly affected by the imprisonment of a loved one. Helping them to come to terms with this is crucial, as statistics bear out the importance of family support in preventing re-offending.
Janie set up the Prisoners’ Families Infoline to provide accurate, factual information, as well as a listening and empathetic ear. In addition to the telephone helpline, the organisation also provides a support group and outreach work.
Lack of basic information is one of the principal sources of misery for the families of those in prison.