The Monica Barritt Visitors’ Centre,
(known locally as the Quaker Visitors’
Centre), in the grounds of Maghaberry Prison
provides a range of services for visitors
to the prison. Many families travel considerable
distances to visit and our centre staff
strive to create a welcoming atmosphere
for children and adults alike.
Some visitors may just require a cup of
tea and a hot snack while they take a little
time to compose themselves before the visit.
Others may wish to share a concern or difficulty
with the manager, and need quality time
to be heard knowing confidentiality is assured.
Children are delighted to use the play
areas at the Visitors’ Centre and
inside the prison where they have the guidance
and participation of our caring child care
staff who understand the difficulties of
having a parent in prison and are sensitive
to individual children’s needs.
For some children, visiting prison can
be a very difficult experience and by providing
child care within the prison visits area
we know that the quality of visit for the
adults and children is enhanced. Children
have the opportunity to engage in a variety
of activities with the guidance and support
of staff and are encouraged to interact
with the imprisoned parent by sharing a
drawing etc with him. Quaker Service childcare
staff also facilitate child-centred visit
sessions in the Quaker playroom along with
Prison Service staff. This enables inmates
to spend quality playtime with their children
away from the visiting table.
Quaker Service is currently developing
a new volunteer programme “Quaker
Connections” which will provide additional
support services for those in custody and
The families of prisoners often suffer
“a silent sentence”, in trying
to maintain the family on the “outside”
while supporting their loved one “inside”.
We believe that in assisting them in this
difficult role we are helping them to maintain
the family bonds which are so vital for