Junior Ministers Jennifer McCann and Jonathan Bell today addressed a seminar focused on the needs of women and families in the prison system.
To mark the second anniversary of the publication of the Review of the Northern Ireland Prison Service a number of voluntary and community sector organisations, including NIACRO, Opportunity Youth, Prison Fellowship, Women’s Support Network and the Quaker Service, organised a series of events to discuss and encourage the inter agency working to implement the recommendations of the Prison Review.
The Women and Families: Understanding the Needs is the third in a series of four breakfast seminars, each focusing on one key issue: Finance, Health, Women and Families, and Young People. Each seminar brings together interested groups and decision makers with the aim of having focused and relevant discussions on areas for improvement in prisons and opportunities for meaningful partnership.
Speaking at the event Junior Minister Jonathan Bell said: “Women and families who are in the prison system can have complex needs that reach across the work of many Departments and agencies. The Executive is taking a joint approach to tackle these issues to ensure women and their families have the necessary support.”
“In September we launched the first phase of Bright Start – the Executive’s Programme for Affordable and Integrated Childcare. The Programme is the starting point of our aim for the Childcare Strategy to create a joined up, sustainable service supporting children’s developmental needs and those of parents wishing to join or rejoin the workforce and women, in particular, will benefit from the availability of accessible, affordable childcare.”
Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said: “Although there are only a relatively small number of women offenders in the north of Ireland, the adverse impact this can have can be very detrimental not just on the women in prison, but also on their children and wider family.
OFMDFM has overarching responsibilities for gender equality and also children and young people so this seminar and the ideas put forward will help inform our future discussions with all the other departments and agencies. I thank and congratulate the organisations involved, NIACRO, Opportunity Youth, Prison Fellowship, Quaker Service, and the Women’s Support Network, for putting together the series of events which have made events like today possible.”
The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister has lead responsibility for promoting gender equality across government.