Family Learning Group, HMP Kilmarnock : An Exploratory Research Report

Deacon, Kirsty (2020) Family Learning Group, HMP Kilmarnock : An Exploratory Research Report. The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, Glasgow.

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This research looks at a specific family visit provision for children and young people with parents in prison, known as a Family Learning Group and previously or sometimes referred to as the Homework Club or After School Club. It takes place in the prison gym and involves the family eating together, playing together and the children can bring in their homework. This is an exploratory study of the Group involving participant observation of families at four of the Group sessions and interviews with some of the prisoners and prison officers who attend and run the Group. Key themes which arose are the importance of the space and the staff on running provisions like this Group. These two aspects feed into feelings of “normality” and an ability to “escape” the prison for that period of time. It also highlighted the importance of attending to issues of quality as well as quantity when thinking of how to improve prison visits. While ultimately the only way to really reduce the harm caused to children and young people by a parent’s imprisonment is to reduce the, currently growing, prison population in Scotland, by considering different ways of providing contact between the child and their imprisoned parent we may at least be able to mitigate some of this harm.