Cross-Party Group Meetings
I am really grateful for the help and support offered by Families Outside at a time when I was a very lost soul. When I [first] arrived at the prison … I was a total mess, I had no clue who I was. I was in shock, disorientated, [and had] no clue what to do, whom to speak to, where to get help. [I had] no outside support as I isolated myself, not wanting anyone to know and ashamed of what had happened in my life. I met another lady in the same situation who told me to speak to Families Outside, and I can honestly say that my meetings with [my Family Support Coordinator] and the support I received was what helped me not only survive but find myself and my voice again.
Meeting with [my Family Support Coordinator] was the thing I looked forward to; it meant I could talk freely about my feelings and that helped reduce all the pent up emotions I was feeling and had no outlet for. Offers of practical help and relaxation were offered but not something I needed. I just needed to have my voice heard, and it was.
I then started to go to the Cross-Party Group meetings and felt that there was no true representation of families; it all appeared to be organisations speaking on behalf of the families. I felt that it should be a family-led meeting, and Families Outside made it possible for me and some other family members affected by imprisonment to tell our stories. I felt very liberated and empowered for the first time in a very long time. My voice mattered, we mattered, and the difference in the other people who spoke after the meeting was quite extraordinary.
Leading on from the Cross-Party meeting, family members [formed] a [peer support] group which is a work in progress, but hopefully it will lead to more people feeling stronger, having a voice, and feeling empowered going forward in life. I would like to thank [my Family Support Coordinator] for her support in my time of crisis and Families Outside for being there.