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Breaking down invisible walls

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Realising Ambition
Improving Futures
Replication and Innovation
Release date:
14 12 2010

A south Wales project aimed at preventing released prisoners from reoffending has received nearly £50,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.

Some £48,918 was awarded to HMP and YOI Parc Prison in Bridgend to develop its Invisible Walls project.

It aims to work with offenders and their families during their sentence and after release to prevent reoffending and address other multiple and complex social issues.

BIG's grant will fund a development plan and the voluntary, statutory and private sector partnerships needed to provide the support.

Parc Prison, which is managed by G4S on behalf of the prison service, recognises that, once released from the prison, ex-offenders no longer benefit from the support they received through intervention programmes.

Research shows that continued support works but it is hoped this pilot project will provide more evidence. The package of intervention will include advice about family debt, training and education, housing advice and support, employment and physical health and fitness.

John Rose, Acting Wales Director for BIG, said: “On average it costs £50,000 to keep a male offender for a year in a local prison and an estimated 60% will go on to reoffend within a year of release.

“The Parc pilot will see intensive support provided to prisoners and their families both inside prison and after release to help with resettlement and to curb the destructive cycle of reoffending. Prevention is better and cheaper than cure and there is a growing body of evidence that if preventative interventions are effective, we can all spend less money on services such as prisons, acute medical care and drug rehabilitation.”

Funding for the project is part of Replication and Innovation, a UK-wide funding programme that aims to use BIG’s networks and funding experience to target deep-rooted social problems. Over five years the programme will fund strategic initiatives working in carefully researched and identified areas of need.

Corin Morgan-Armstrong, Senior Manager at HMP & YOI Parc, said: “Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund, HMP & YOI Parc now has the opportunity to begin the development stage of an exciting and unique project.

“Invisible Walls will seek to engage, support, and motivate prisoners through Parc's new and unique 'Family Interventions Unit', where they will work on an individual and group basis to focus entirely upon the importance and skills necessary to repair, develop, and maintain a healthy family relationship.

“The project will also seek to engage, support and motivate the partners and families of these individual prisoners, so that they too are proactively involved in the project. Overwhelming evidence supports the tangible benefit in reducing reoffending that family focused work can have especially where it works with the whole family, and not just the offender in prison.

“Invisible Walls intends to work and support the individual, the family, and the community in reducing the likelihood of the prisoners returning to crime and prison after release, whilst also improving the quality of life for some of the most socially excluded in our communities, and thus the communities themselves. It is also hoped that this focused activity will help to derail intergenerational offending, which in itself in South Wales sees a disproportionate amount of young boys following their fathers into the revolving door of crime, court and prison.”

Notes to Editors

  • In Wales, the Big Lottery Fund is rolling out close to £1 million a week in Lottery good cause money, which together with other Lottery distributors means that across Wales most people are within a few miles of a Lottery-funded project.
  • The Big Lottery Fund, the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. It was established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to Good Causes. As a result, over £25 billion has now been raised and more than 330,000 grants given out across the arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
  • HMP & YOI Parc is a Category B local prison housing approximately 1200 male adults (convicted only), young offenders (convicted and remand) and young people (convicted and remand).The prison opened in November 1997 and is the only private prison in Wales. It is managed by G4S on behalf of the Prison Service.
  • The prison employs700 members of staff, many of whom are recruited from the local area. HMP & YOI Parc offers a progressive and challenging regime in a modern environment. A range of activities aim to equip offenders with the key skills necessary to reduce the risk of re-offending after release.