Cruse Bereavement Care offers support to all members of society, including people who are imprisoned. In conjunction with the Northern Ireland Prison Service, we deliver a service which supports bereaved prisoners both as they serve their sentence and within the community on their release.
The aim of providing this support is to work towards a reduction in re-offending rates and to promote resettlement back into the community. The service is funded by the Northern Ireland Prison Service and it is delivered by trained Cruse volunteers and supervisors.
What does the Prison Support Service provide?
The Cruse Prison Support Service provides bereavement support to prisoners over the age of 18 who are finding it difficult to cope with their grief while serving their sentence, whether their bereavement is recent, or some time ago. Grieving in prison can be extremely difficult due to the separation from the normal family unit and its support, which means that often prisoners stand the least chance of coming to terms with bereavement than any other group in our society.
For more information on why grieving in prison can be difficult, you can read our ‘Grief on the Inside’ leaflet - click here to download.
Who do we provide support to?
Currently, our Bereavement Support Volunteers support bereaved female prisoners and young offenders in HMP Hydebank Wood and male prisoners in both HMP Magilligan and HMP Maghaberry. The service is available to any prisoner who has been bereaved. If you know someone in prison who might benefit from bereavement support, please contact the Prison Support Manager, who will be able to provide you with information on how that person can access the service within their prison.
Would you like to become a Cruse Prison Support Volunteer?
Working with prisoners and within the prison environment can be very challenging but it is also very rewarding. A specific training programme has been devised to ensure that Cruse volunteers are equipped to work with bereaved prisoners.
There are currently two pathways for becoming a Prison Support Volunteer:
- if you are already a Cruse volunteer, please see first section below.
- if you are not a Cruse volunteer, please see second section below entitled NON-CRUSE VOLUNTEERS
You will need 60 hours client work, post your Awareness in Bereavement Care training. As well as this, you will need two references and an endorsement from your branch supervisor / coordinator.
Training will examine the stereotypes we have about prisoners and prisons, considering our fears and expectations alongside the reality of working the prison environment. It will also look at how and why grieving in prison can be difficult and complicated. Modules will also include information on substance abuse, prison culture and an introduction to prison, with orientation, meeting prisoners and prison staff.
If you would like to express your interest, please contact the Prison Support Manager.
A direct pathway for people who are not yet Cruse volunteers is currently being developed. This training will incorporate the Cruse Awareness in Bereavement Care training in conjunction with training specifically designed for undertaking bereavement support within the prison system.
Prison Support training will examine the stereotypes we have about prisoners and prisons, considering our fears and expectations alongside the reality of working the prison environment. It will also look at how and why grieving in prison can be difficult and complicated. Modules will also include information on substance abuse, prison culture and an introduction to prison, with orientation, meeting prisoners and prison staff.
If you have experience of counselling, working with ex-prisoners or working in the prison environment, and would like to register your interest at this point, please email the Prison Support Manager.
Prison Support Manager
[t]: 028 9079 2419
The Northern Ireland Prison Service
Prison Counselling Network
Sainsbury's Centre for Mental Health
The Prison Reform Trust