Mission in Prisons

 HMP Low Moss Timeline

Changing Prisons, Changing Lives

The mantra of the first public sector prison to be built in Scotland since 1978 is Changing Prisons, Changing Lives.   The staff at HMP Low Moss, Bishopbriggs have set their stall on creating an environment which will provide the 784 prisoners with the opportunities to transform their lives; by learning new skills while working a 35 hour week, engaging in education course, sport and the creative arts.   Worship and discussions on faith issues will be led by the chaplains in the Multi-Faith centre supported by members of Prison Fellowship.

The Christian communities in the surrounding areas have responded enthusiastically to a call by Mothers’ Union to form a band of volunteers to support the children, family and friends of prisoners during visiting times.   This ministry includes providing a welcome, hospitality, care of young children and assisting prisoners and their children during dedicated homework visits.  Plans are also underway to develop other innovative ministries with young people.  To date over sixty people have come forward and more will always be welcomed to share God’s love with our neighbours.

Both ministries are dynamic and have and will continue to be guided and sustained by prayer.   By so doing volunteers; members of MU, ecumenical partners, show a willingness both to work together as Christians and with those of other or no faith in an environment that will be challenging and take them out of their comfort zones.   However, by God’s grace, there is hope that all those involved, prisoners, families, chaplains, staff and volunteers will be open to their lives being transformed in Low Moss – changing prisons, changing lives.    The new prison opens on March 19th.

 Let mutual love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.  Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who were being tortured as though you yourselves were being tortured.  Hebrews 13:1-3

Ann Glenesk 6/3/2012



Low Moss Community Volunteer Group (LCVG)

Group established in 2011 – advantage of getting tour of building – being in cells etc, meeting staff, learning from staff and from Families Outside and getting to know one another.

Initially recruitment was via Churches Together in the catchment area.

HMP Low Moss opened in March 2012

The 2013 Prison Review stated:   Good Practice 11: The Low Moss Community Voluntary Group are provided with a training package, given prison ID cards and are welcomed as part of the staff group. This has led to a positive ethos between the prison and the local community. (Paragraph 34.5)

Governor Stoney appreciates presence of volunteers and views the central role of volunteers is to bring part the local community into prison which helps to normalise a difficult situation.

Volunteers have access to staff quarters and gym.

Volunteers while having the respect of prison staff, must also adhere to prison rules – Boundaries training – Child Protection – Safety –

Volunteers expected to assist staff in all matters – must adhere to rules! Important volunteers receive input from staff before commencing to volunteer – Training is on-going

Links with Staff

Manager holds 4 meetings per year with volunteers – keeps volunteers up-to-date with developments/ training opportunities at the prison – provides a forum for volunteers to discuss a wide range of issues

Family Contact Officers (FCO) + all staff if volunteer has any concerns

Volunteers receive invitations to attend events at prison from FCO – parties, small animal visits, sports etc

Invitations come from Education Dept – WW1 event recently and Prison Chaplains – worship services – most recent Good Friday

Children and Family Strategy Group – volunteer present

Role of Volunteers – open and varied

  • Monthly prayers with Chaplains in Multi-Faith Centre
  • T-Bar in visiting room
  • Children’s visits
  • Homework visits
  • Crafts
  • Book Bug
  • Visiting prisoners – in two – requires training
  • Kelvin Guide and Scouts

All volunteers are equally valued – no hierarchy – a coordinator who communicates – volunteers part of staffing – relationship between staff and volunteers

Mothers’ Union members part of LCVG – work alongside people of all faiths and none, irrespective of gender, marital status, ethnic origin, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.

MU Members from 3 local branches serve at prison – Cumbernauld, Lenzie – who started the Guide and Scout Group and Bishopbriggs.

Focus on learning on how best to make a difference – Families Outside + staff –

Volunteers do what they can

Concerns – more volunteers needed – initial numbers of 70 reduced – now probably 30 – still healthy, but good to have new people – ? recruitment

Concerns – how to maximise time at prison –

NB Volunteering in prison is a privilege

NB For families with a loved one in prison it is a sentence!

Focus on needs of whole families – prisoners, their loved ones – women, men and children

 AG/April 2015