Support for Foreign National Prisoners.

The needs of foreign national prisoners are often unmet. Thanks to support from The Bell Foundation, we offer our Peer Advisor Programme in prisons holding foreign national prisoners to provide specialist support. It trains up serving prisoners to the Level 3 Information, Advice and Guidance qualification who help others adjust to life in the UK prison system and address some of the specific issues this group encounter during their time in custody.

Foreign national prisoners can experience high levels of trauma and isolation. Being held in custody in an unfamiliar country, lack of a passport and language difficulties can make life particularly harsh and increase the risk of getting into trouble due to genuine misunderstandings about the prison regime. We offer vocational training in HMP Huntercombe and HMP Downview training prisoners to offer peer-based advice and guidance support.

In HMP Downview this addresses the specific needs presented by female foreign national prisoners who are often vulnerable, trafficked women. Direct help is offered around issues such as accessing resettlement facilities, maintaining contact with families and children and adjusting to the UK prisons system.

Similar work is also carried out with male foreign national prisoners at HMP Huntercombe. We offer prisoners the opportunity to train as peer advisors who then offer support to others in prison on issues such as translating, advocacy, referrals to specialist services as needed.

A small but significant number of the Peer Advisors we have trained under this project have progressed to undertake the Level 4 in Information, Advice and Guidance which has meant they have been able to take on added responsibilities and pass their knowledge onto other Peer Advisors.