Our Glasgow-based Prison Link service aims to connect people in prisons living with, or at risk of, blood-borne viruses (hepatitis C and/or HIV), or those seeking sexual health advice, to a support network as they approach, at the time of, and following their release.
There are approximately 21,000 people in Scotland living with hepatitis C. One in five people in prison in Scotland also has hepatitis C, compared to one in 150 in the general population. Over 70% of people in prison have a history of drug use and 26% test positive for drugs upon release, putting them at a heightened risk of drug-related deaths for the first two weeks post-release.
Glasgow faces severe homelessness, addiction and drug injection rates, along with a major HIV outbreak among drug users. Many people living in prison in Glasgow struggle with drug use and blood-borne viruses (BBVs), making them vulnerable upon release due to drug misuse, homelessness and a lack of support, potentially leading to disengagement from vital services and overdose.
The Prison Link service is Glasgow-based and streamlines the transition from prison to liberation, providing ongoing support leading to improved health outcomes. Alongside one to one support, Prison Link service offers education, awareness programs and harm reduction measures for those involved in the justice system. These initiatives are vital due to gaps in knowledge about HIV and outdated information on hepatitis C.
Established in 2016, the Prison Link service complements existing services, such as NHS BBV Services, Addiction and Recovery Services and Scottish Prison Service (SPS), focusing on individuals with BBVs, people experiencing drug dependency issues, potential homelessness and post-release challenges.
The goal of the Prison Link service is to link people to comprehensive support after they leave prison, raise awareness about harm reduction, ensure they stay committed to treatment and care for their BBV, therefore reducing the risk of drug-related deaths during the high-risk period post-release.
Through our Prison Link service, we
- Provide one to one support to people who inject drugs and have hepatitis C and/or HIV, both before and after their release.
- Focus on helping recently released individuals stay connected to services after their release. Many with short sentences often lose support, therefore this assistance ensures they continue their BBV treatment, care and support.
- Provide sexual health advice and support, and signpost to other sexual health services if there is a need.
- Partner with prisons, healthcare and justice projects to provide education, testing and support for BBVs and safer drug use. We also offer education sessions in prisons when allowed.
- Carry out BBV testing in communities at risk of hepatitis C or HIV due to drug use. This testing is part of the Glasgow WAND Initiative, which aims to reduce drug-related harm and overdose deaths among people who inject drugs.
People living in four prison establishments across Greater Glasgow & Clyde with HIV/hep C or those who have a current link with a justice system within 6 month period residing in the community can be referred to our Prison Link service. Referrals are accepted from HMP Barlinnie, HMP Low Moss, HMP Greenock, Lilias Center, community organisations and healthcare partners; self-referrals are also accepted.
We work in partnership with the following organisations:
- Sustainable Interventions Supporting Change Outside (SISCO)
- Navigate (the Violence Reduction Unit funded community service using a public health approach with a try, test and prove concept)
- HMP Barlinnie
- HMP Low Moss
- HMP Greenock
- Lilias Center
- Turning Point’s 218 Project
- Inverclyde Faith in Throughcare
- New Routes
- Glasgow Harm Reduction Action Group (GHRAG)
- NHS City Centre Outreach Team and sexual health nurses
- Glasgow Drugs Crisis Centre
- Simon Community