Twenty years of support

Lorraine Derbyshire, Alex Davies, Liz Thomson, Andrew Smith, NEPACS Chief Executive Helen Atwell, Catherine Sracey and Janice Douglas with the cake to mark the  twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the visitors' centre at HMP Northumberland (formerly HMP Acklington and HMYOI Castington).
Lorraine Derbyshire, Alex Davies, Liz Thomson, Andrew Smith, NEPACS Chief Executive Helen Atwell, Catherine Sracey and Janice Douglas with the cake to mark the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the visitors' centre at HMP Northumberland (formerly HMP Acklington and HMYOI Castington).

Two decades of work has been celebrated by a prison visitor centre.

The facility at HMP Northumberland (formerly HMP Acklington and HMYOI Castington) was opened by Princess Anne in 1993 and provides a wealth of support for visitors of inmates.

The centre, run by the North East Prisons After Care Society (NEPACS), aims to build bridges for prisoners, their families and the community.

It offers a warm, dry, shelter from the elements for families who may have had travel hundreds of miles to visit a relative at the prison.

There is a small café, play area for children and lots of advice and information on a range of topics.

Staff and volunteers focus on providing a warm welcome and ensuring that visitors can relax and unwind after long journeys in order to focus on the visit ahead.

The anniversary was celebrated with a specially iced cake.

Centre manager Liz Thomson said: “The centre has undergone many changes over the years and will undoubtedly face changes in the future too as the management of HMP Northumberland is set to change.

“We continue to strive to make the difficult experience of visiting a prison as easy and painless as possible.

“Our staff and volunteers take pride in going the extra mile to offer help and support.

“If anyone would like to join our friendly team and work at the centre, or in the visits hall, serving refreshments or providing play activities for children, we would be very pleased to hear from potential volunteers.

“We can make a real difference in keeping families together and improving the chances of resettlement for prisoners on their release.”

NEPACS recognises that families of prisoners, and especially children, may become the hidden victims of crime when a relative is imprisoned.

Staff at the centre and volunteers provide friendship and support during this difficult time to make sentences easier for families to deal with.

For more information about NEPACS contact the general inquiries line on 0191 3757278 or visit the charity’s website at www.nepacs.co.uk