Gloucester Prison family charity continues despite jail closure

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A charity which helped children whose fathers were held in Gloucester Prison said it will continue to offer support despite the jail closing next month.

The Castle Gate Gloucestershire programme had secured funding for the next three years and said it would now have to adapt its service.

The final session for children to see their fathers, before they were sent to other prisons, took place last week.

The prison, which housed 320 inmates, closes officially on 31 March.

The Castle Gate programme is run by charity InfoBuzz, which offered services such as a play area and crèche facilities during visiting times. It also employs an outreach worker.

Tony France, of InfoBuzz, said the charity was "completely changing its model of delivery".

'Email contact'

He said the charity would now be developing a "programme for fathers" aimed at helping those currently in the court system and on probation.

He said: "We are in talks with probation with the aim of identifying families who need help at a much earlier stage.

"We can brief people on the impact of losing a parent to custody, advise on how to tell the children and how to set up visits to a prison further away.

"We will show them how they can keep in contact by email. We are really keen that children and families of offenders don't serve their own hidden sentences."

The prison is one of seven to be closed across England as part of cost-cutting measures. The Prison Service said no decisions had yet been made as to the future use of the building.

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