Celebrating 10 years of supporting families                  at HMYOI Deerbolt

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A north east charity celebrated 10 years of supporting families and children of prisoners at HMYOI Deerbolt near Barnard Castle on Sunday 1 October 2017.

Nepacs has worked across the north east for over 135 years to help support a positive future for prisoners, their friends and families and provides a range of support services to prisoners and their families in all seven prisons in the region.  

The visitors’ centre at Deerbolt, run by Nepacs, was opened in October 2007 by Anne Owers, who was the HM Inspector of Prisons at the time.  The centre was built thanks to funding raised by Nepacs.

Nepacs’ staff and volunteers now welcome around 11,000 visitors each year at the HMYOI Deerbolt centre, located in the beautiful village of Startforth near Barnard Castle. HMYOI Deerbolt is a young offenders’ establishment that caters for male young offenders between the ages of 18 to 21. 

Offering a warm, dry, shelter from the elements for families who may travel hundreds of miles to visit a relative at the prison, the Nepacs’ visitors’ centre has 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 birthday cake and activities for the children visiting the centre. Joining in the celebrations were staff from the prison, Nepacs staff and volunteers (past and present) and the The Town Mayor of Barnard Castle Cllr  Sandra Moorhouse.

Visitors’ centre team leader, Linda Fenwick, said: “The centre has undergone many changes over the years since it opened, including a conservatory which opened in 2011 as a dedicated play area. 

“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 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 the young men on their release.”

Helen Attewell, chief executive of Nepacs, added: “As a mother of two sons who are the same age as Deerbolt residents, I often think about how difficult it must be for the parents who visit prison.  Our staff and volunteers provide vital reassurance and a listening ear – and I now can’t imagine what is must have been like before Nepacs provided this service.  I want to appeal to those who live in the local area who have some time and life experience to give to help sustain our work by volunteering for Nepacs.

Further details of all volunteer opportunities with Nepacs are on their website www.nepacs.co.uk  or by contacting Emma Price on 0191 3757278, email volunteering@nepacs.co.uk

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