Imprisoned mums at Hydebank Wood are using Zoom technology to share special time with their kids.
A pilot project at Northern Ireland’s only female prison facility was launched in August to provide additional contact for mums with children at home or those placed in foster care.
During the Covid pandemic the Prison Service has facilitated more than 20,000 virtual visits from Hydebank Wood, Maghaberry and Magilligan prisons.
Hydebank Wood Deputy Governor Tom Ferguson said: “The project with mums is a further example of Prison Service innovation and compassion at this time.
“It very much fits with the Prison Service Family Strategy where stronger family links and ties to children are encouraged. Anything that helps reduce the trauma of having a parent in prison is a positive step forward.”
The Hydebank mums are permitted Zoom visits with their kids between the hours of 5-7pm when they get to chat with them, help with their school homework and even read bedtime stories to them.
Head of Resettlement at Hydbebank Wood, Tracy Megrath, said: “We recognised that our mothers in custody were missing out on vital one to one contact with their children. So we put in place Zoom visits between 5-7pm when their kids are home from school and settled for the evening.
“It’s been a huge success, the mums have welcomed it; they get to see and chat with their kids without distraction. It has provided a vital link for those mothers and their children.”