Stronger Families Inside Out

Grampian leads the way in promoting family ties.

Families Outside, the only organisation in Scotland to work exclusively on behalf of families affected by imprisonment, has created a new partnership with the Denis Law Legacy Trust to help children build better relationships with their parents in prison.

Scottish Government figures estimate that 20,000 children each year in Scotland have a parent in prison – more than are affected by divorce.

Research shows that these children are at a higher risk of developing mental health problems and are three times more likely to engage in anti-social or offending behaviour than children without imprisoned parents.1

One of the most comprehensive studies on children of prisoners, undertaken across four European countries, found that regular contact with parents is crucial in maintaining children’s emotional wellbeing and capacity for resilience.2

Research also shows that prisoners who maintain contact with their families are up to 6 times less likely to reoffend.3

Families Outside already oversees Prison Visitor Centres across Scotland, working with charity partners to improve the visitor experience, but visiting can still be difficult, especially for children.

To address these difficulties, Families Outside has received funding from BBC Children in Need, and is working alongside Denis Law Legacy Trust’s Streetsport initiative, to deliver Stronger Families Inside Out, a programme in HMP Grampian that will help children and young people at risk of anti-social behaviour and social isolation while simultaneously providing people in prison and their families with more positive contact.

Nancy Loucks, CEO of Families Outside said, ‘We are extremely grateful for the support from BBC Children in Need and very excited to be working alongside Streetsport to deliver more meaningful family contact at HMP Grampian. The Stronger Families Inside Out project is already providing a unique platform to strengthen family ties, which in turn will improve children’s general wellbeing, reduce the risk they will become involved in offending, and reduce reoffending in our current prison population – three incredibly positive outcomes that all lead to a safer Scotland for all.”

Mark Williams, Chief Operating Officer of the Denis Law Legacy Trust said, “This project is something we have wanted to do for a while now and it’s fantastic to see the impact its having already. Helping break the circle of imprisonment in young people is a hugely rewarding motivator and the partnership working involved has everyone excited and driven to make a difference for both young people and the communities they come from. “Speaking of the grant, Paul Liddell, National Head of Scotland for BBC Children in Need said: “BBC Children in Need funds projects across every local authority in Scotland that are helping to transform the lives of disadvantaged children and young people, and we are very pleased to count Families Outside among them. In the coming months we look forward to seeing how these sport and creative sessions help families rebuild their relationships, by easing the stress of visiting a parent in prison and encouraging more positive interactions.”

In its very early stages, the initiative is already seeing good results, encouraging more young people to have more positive contact with their parent.

“Prison visits are hard on kids and my 8 year old daughter found them so difficult that she hadn’t seen her dad in a few years. The Stronger Families Inside Out project makes the visits much more fun and interactive. She now looks forward to visiting her dad and has built a much better relationship with him. She is happier, more confident…. a different child. This Families Outside project is amazing, I’ve not heard of anything else that gives children the opportunity to maintain their relationships with their parents in such a positive and unique way.” Mum, HMP Grampian.

Kirsty Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North said “Streetsport has a huge amount of experience working with young people and creating positive diversionary activities.  It’s clear that this project is already having a positive impact on the lives of the families and the young people involved.  There is clear research that keeping good family links can help reduce the risk of prisoners reoffending.  This is a brilliant project from Families Outside, and one that will have such a great long-term impact on the families involved.”

Stuart Campbell, Head of Operations at Scottish Prison Service said, ”This is an excellent project that has created so much positivity for families in such a short space of time. The enthusiasm of Street Sport and the wide range of activities they offer to the families is fantastic. They are a welcome visitor to the family Visitors’ Centre and visit room. Great initiative from both Families Outside & Street Sport. Other prisons should consider this as good long term project for families to engage in.”

Notes to Editors

Families Outside is a national Scottish charity and the only organisation in Scotland to work exclusively on behalf of families affected by imprisonment. More information is available at

Denis Law Legacy Trusts Streetsport initiative delivers free weekly sports & creative activity sessions for young people throughout Aberdeen City. They deploy mobile activity arenas directly into local communities and operate during peak times of anti-social behaviour. More information is available at

Media enquiries: Todd Henshaw, Communication & Marketing Manager at Families Outside

For more information on the specific research referenced in this release please see:


2 University of Huddersfield (2013) Children of Prisoners: Interventions and mitigations to strengthen mental health

3 Holt and Miller (1972) “Explorations in Inmate-Family Relationships.” California Department of Corrections Research Report 46; Hairston, C. F. (1991) “Family Ties During Imprisonment: Important to Whom and for What?” Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 18 (1), 87-104; Ministry of Justice and Department for Children, Schools and Families (2008) Reducing re-offending: supporting families, creating better futures – A Framework for improving the local delivery of support for the families of offenders. London: MoJ and DCSF.

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