Case Study

The Croft Visitor Centre: Empowering Families Affected by Imprisonment in Glasgow

Posted in: .

a person standing next to a banner with the logo of "the croft" on it. next to them is a table which also displays the logo for "the croft"


The Croft Visitor Centre, HMP Barlinnie, 81 Lee Avenue, Riddrie, Glasgow, G33 2QX

Name of project 

Support with planning and facilitating a strategy session with stakeholders (board, staff, families, partner organisations) and producing a report to analyse findings that will inform a 3-year strategy plan.

Services used

Online and in-person meetings with Manager and Chair of the Board of The Croft, designing activities and planning a strategy session for stakeholders, facilitating session, producing a report with an analysis of stakeholders’ responses to group activities, identifying five key themes, and making recommendations to help inform a 3-year strategy and delivery plan.

Overview of organisation

The Croft provides information and support to families (and other loved ones) of those imprisoned. These services help to alleviate the poverty, emotional stress, stigma and additional barriers that families and loved ones of those imprisoned can suffer.


When someone is involved in the criminal justice system, it’s not just the individual who is affected – it’s a family experience. Whether it’s an arrest, court appearance, remand, or a custodial or community sentence, the emotional and practical implications for the family and key relationships are significant. The Croft focuses on addressing the information and support needs of family members and loved ones during this challenging time.

In December 2023, The Croft’s dedication to supporting families affected by imprisonment was recognised with the prestigious Team Award at the Glasgow Times Community Champion Awards, highlighting the importance and positive impact of their work.

The problem

With the approval of a new prison, HMP Glasgow, set to replace HMP Barlinnie in 2027, The Croft are determined to continue improving their support services and secure the contract for the purpose-built visitors’ facility at the new prison.

To achieve this goal, The Croft sought the help of CEIS (Community Enterprise in Scotland) in facilitating a strategy session with around 30 stakeholders to gather their views and experiences and inform their 3-year strategy and delivery plan.

This was a unique opportunity for The Croft to engage with a diverse range of stakeholders, including families, partner organisations like Families Outside, Parent Network Scotland, Community Justice Glasgow, and more.

The solution

CEIS immersed themselves in understanding The Croft’s work, seeking guidance on appropriate language, avoiding assumptions, and creating an inclusive environment. They gained valuable insights into the financial, social, and emotional impact of imprisonment on families through The Croft’s website and various reports. They learnt about the specific challenges faced by these families, such as increased costs due to travel, snacks at visits, clothing, and postage, as well as digital exclusion and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

Working closely with The Croft’s Chair and Manager, CEIS co-designed engaging activities centred around The Croft’s three key functions: improving the or visitor experience, providing independent and impartial advice and support, and voicing the needs of families affected by imprisonment to HMP Barlinnie.

During the session, stakeholders participated in activities like a word cloud generator and group discussions focused on vision, values, and aims. They provided feedback, suggestions, and amendments, which were recorded for further analysis.

Despite challenges with acoustics and security restrictions on photography and mobile phone usage within the prison environment, CEIS adapted their delivery to ensure all participants could contribute effectively.

The outcome

The final report produced by CEIS provided a balanced reflection of the discussions from the strategy session, identifying five key themes: vision and messaging, accessible language, awareness and perceptions, non-judgemental support, and areas for growth. The report included specific, actionable recommendations for each theme and general suggestions for The Croft’s Board to consider.

The Croft found the report immensely helpful, with the Board discussing the recommendations in detail. The Chair reported valuable discussions on the paper and provided an extract from the Board meeting minutes explaining actions on recommendations. The next step is to invite participants to join thematic groups and contribute to the content of the delivery plan.

The independent facilitation provided by CEIS allowed The Croft to gain a fresh perspective on their work, which will be invaluable as they move forward with their 3-year strategy and delivery plan.

With the insights gained from the strategy session and the ongoing support of stakeholders, The Croft is well-positioned to continue their vital work supporting families affected by imprisonment.




Each quarter CEIS will provide you with an update on recent activity and useful resources. To make sure you don't miss out, sign up below...