Support for families and friends of prisoners

Last updated: 15 October 2019

Get advice and support if you or someone you know is:

  • sent to prison or a young offenders' institution
  • in custody awaiting trial (on remand)

Why families and friends need support

When someone goes to prison, it can have a huge impact on their friends and family. The effects can be practical, financial and emotional.

Maintaining relationships and knowing that help is at hand can make it easier to cope when you or someone you know starts a prison sentence. It can also reduce the risk of re-offending on release.

What kind of support is available for families and friends?

Advice, information and support is available to help with many aspects of your life that are affected by imprisonment.

You can also choose how you want that support – there's online information, helplines and face-to-face support.

Practical and financial support

Practical and financial support covers:

  • housing
  • taking care of children
  • debt and money
  • any benefits you claim
  • any possessions or property you own
  • legal advice and rights
  • employment

Read our guide to managing your finances if you're affected by imprisonment.

Emotional support

Imprisonment can also be an emotional and upsetting time for families and friends. Help is available for any worries you might have about:

  • relationships
  • coping with feelings
  • hostility you, your family or your friends might face from neighbours and the community – or from closer to home

Support with prison visits

Visiting prison can also take its toll – financially and emotionally. There are resources available to help with:

  • arranging visits
  • travel expenses
  • keeping in contact in other ways

Where families and friends can get support

Some local councils offer services that support prisoners and their families during and after imprisonment.

To find out what's available in your local area, visit your local council's website.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) supports families with:

  • at least one Family Contact Officer for every prison in Scotland – giving advice and practical guidance to relatives
  • face-to-face support at several Scottish prisons through Family Help Hubs

Further information

Other organisations that can give prisoners' families and friends information, advice and support include:

Families Outside

This Scottish charity provides support, information and family support workers to families of prisoners.
Telephone: freephone 0800 254 0088
Text: FAMOUT to 60777

Citizens Advice

All Citizens Advice Bureaux offer detailed support and guidance on everything from legal advice to practical arrangements – and they'll refer you to the right place if they're not able to help.

Visit their website to:

Telephone: 0808 800 9060
Find out about call charges


This Scottish community justice organisation provides services across Scotland, covering everything from conflict resolution to housing support.

Visit the SACRO website to find out what's available in your area.