£150,000 to help the families of offenders cope with ‘isolation and stigma’

Teesside Crown Court
Teesside Crown Court
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Families of offenders who face seeing their relative sentenced and imprisoned will continue to get help after a charity won a cash windfall.

Nepacs has been given almost £150,000 by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to help fund a befriending support group during a five-year period.

It supports those who see a friend or a relation sentenced and incarcerated as they visit Durham or Teesside courts.

Nepacs staff and volunteers provide services in seven prisons and young offender establishments across the North East, including prison visitors’ centres, play areas, youth projects and family support.

The latest funding boost will see it continue the work it began three years ago with the help of a team of volunteers, led by Jane Leak.

They offer information, a listening ear, provide information about the court process, how and when to arrange visits and how to stay in touch.

Since its launch in Teesside in July 2013, and in Durham in 2015, 1,292 families have accessed support in the courts and via a telephone line.

Ms Leak said: “From the moment of arrest and throughout the court process, families are at risk of social isolation and stigma which can affect their emotional, physical, financial and social wellbeing.

“For those families who are unfamiliar with the judicial system or who are unprepared, this can be a distressing time.”

Ministry of Justice figures state prisoners are 39% less likely to re-offend if they have had visits throughout their prison sentence.