Research has shown that understanding the impact of trauma, loss and bereavement on young people in custody, and providing them with the support they need, can have a positive impact on lives and outcomes.
The study, conducted by the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ) and the School of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde, sought to better understand these experiences and how they affect young people, and also begin to identify what might help young people in these situations.
The Robertson Trust and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) funded the research, which was carried out over 12 months at HMYOI Polmont.
The findings are published in a report entitled ‘Our Lives with Others: An evaluation of trauma, bereavement and loss developments at HMYOI Polmont’.
The research aimed to assess the impact of a range of trauma, bereavement and loss developments implemented by HMYOI Polmont, including: a staff training course, delivered by Barnardo’s Scotland and the SPS, designed to raise awareness of how trauma, bereavement and loss can affect young people; and the Barnardo’s Scotland ‘Here and Now’ pilot service, that worked directly with young men who had experienced trauma, bereavement and loss.
Nina Vaswani, Research Lead at CYCJ, said: “We know from previous research that young people involved in offending behaviour, and especially those who end up in custody, have experienced higher rates of bereavement and loss than the general population. Often their needs have gone unaddressed or recognised, which has played a part in their journey to custody. It’s therefore crucial for young people, and for society as a whole, that we recognise the impact of bereavement and loss, and understand what types of approaches might begin to help young people through such difficult times.
“Encouragingly, our report concludes that the activity in Polmont is beginning to make a real and positive impact on the lives of young people, staff and the establishment as a whole, as demonstrated by one young man who commented “I’m a lot happier…I just feel as if I’m smiling a lot”.
This coincides with CYCJ’s conference ‘Working with Loss and Bereavement in Children and Young People’, taking place at the University of Strathclyde on November 18 as part of Children’s Grief Awareness Week UK.