On 23 March 2016, visitors to north east prisons came together to share their views on the support and services they receive in local prisons and areas for improvement.
Our annual 'Visitors' Voice' event took place at the Age UK meeting rooms at Darlington Community Fire Station in Darlington.
Nepacs' chief executive Helen Attewell introduced the day with an update on Nepacs and Patrice Lawrence, development officer: families for Clinks led a discussion about the issues families of prisoners face and what messages they would like taken back to the Minister of Justice. This was followed by a workshop in which families identified what works and what needs to be improved in terms of visiting arrangements at north east prisons. After lunch Julie Dhuny (head of commissioning, health and justice, Cumbria and North East) gave a talk (supported by staff from Lifeline's DART team) about the work of the NHS offender health commissioning team, providing updates on the prison smoking ban, care of older prisoners and new psychoactive substances (NPS).
Lively discussion through out the day generated a great deal of useful feedback and suggestions, which we will take into consideration when developing new services, improving services we currently provide and in our discussions with the prisons in the north east. Patrice Lawrence and Julie Dhuny will also take the feedback they received back to their organisations to help influence and inform their work.
A summary of some of the issues discussed is available HERE.