Supporting Elderly Prison Visitors - From Andrea


I met a lovely lady called Margaret on prison visit who is 75 years young. I am in touch with her and asked permission to use her name if you decide to publish my story. Margaret visits her son on the same days I visit my husband and I have supported her for 6 months now. None of Margaret's other family members visit her son so she is alone on her journey. I am very surprised that it has taken a while for the elderly prison visitors to be acknowledged. When I first met Margaret, who likes to be called, Mags, she was petrified of the searches and thought she would be seeing her son in handcuffs. Mags didn't know what to expect so I came to her aid and sat with her on a bench outside the visitors centre. Mags isn't computer literate so therefore she could not find support or information online like many of us do. There are leaflets available in visitors centres, but they do not explain the feelings you go through when you visit a loved one in prison. When a prison visit is over with, you are still left sat on an emotional rollercoaster. I'm in my 30's and have been visiting my husband for 2 years and still to this day I come away from the visit a complete emotional wreck and that feeling lasts a couple days. No one can really prepare you for a prison visit and no amount of books or leaflets can either although they can be helpful in some cases when it comes to information on what you can and can't send in to your loved one etc. Mags struggles because she does not have support and isn't interested in computers and the internet. Many like her at her age aren't so the only person she can talk to is me as we exchanged telephone numbers. I do not mind one bit supporting Mags but I would like to send a message out to any support groups who help prisoners families that there really needs to be something set up for the elderly. I know there are free telephone support lines, and I used them myself when my husband first went in to prison, but there is something missing. Do not get me wrong, I found the helpline to be brilliant, but a different approach is needed when supporting the elderly. I also found your posts on those with dementia a brilliant topic because my Mum is in the early stages of the cruel illness and she visits my husband too from time to time. There will be a time when she can't and again, some support needs to be put in to place for those with dementia too. I have printed out some posts on your blog and posted them to Mags as she doesn't have the internet. Finally I want to thank your site and volunteers for posting stories about issues that need to be talked about. Regards, Andrea.