Following on from the success of our work with children and young people in the community, it was clear that our flexible approach and ability to adapt to support the needs of different groups would greatly benefit women in custody.
Many female offenders in Scotland have experienced mental health and drug issues, have histories of physical and sexual abuse, victimisation and often also have dependent children.
Since early 2016, Rebecca and her team of Ambassadogs have been working with women in custody at HMP and YOI Cornton Vale, and later HMP & YOI Polmont too, to provide a therapeutic, engaging and motivating Human Animal Interaction (HAI) service that is available to women across the establishment.
At both prisons we provide a structured course about dog training and care, facilitating enjoyable activities with our team of Ambassadogs before progressing to working with the rescue dogs in our care. The service aims to enhance mood of participants, enrich social skills and relations with staff / peers, develop an understanding of dogs and animal care and help students engage in education. Students also develop skills relevant for employment and grow in confidence, positively impacting their well-being. The students particularly benefit from the supportive environment created through interacting with the dogs. Many students remain involved in the course in the long term, progressing to more advanced training with the dogs and working as peer mentors.