Limerick prison project ‘good value for money’

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Value for money: At the launch of the Bedford Row Family Project evaluation report were Deirdre O'Halloran, Mayor Gerry McLoughlin, Larry De Cleir and Judge Michael O'Reilly, Inspector of Prisons. Picture: Mike Cowhe
A LIMERICK charity dedicated to the welfare of prisoners and their relatives saves over €5 for every €1 invested, according to a value-for-money review.

A LIMERICK charity dedicated to the welfare of prisoners and their relatives saves over €5 for every €1 invested, according to a value-for-money review.

Bedford Row Family Project works with inmates of Limerick Prison and their families from a base at Bedford Row that was a parting gift from the Franciscan Friars on leaving Limerick in 2008. Supported by the Irish Prison Service, the Sisters of Mercy and smaller donors, the project also has a visitor centre for prisoners’ families on Mulgrave Street.

A study of its social impact over the three-year period up to 2011 - conducted by Gauge Ireland - has been launched on Bedford Row by Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly in the presence of Mayor Gerry McLoughlin and Eamonn Mullane, governor of Limerick Prison.

Gauge Ireland is a social enterprise that attempts to quantify in monetary terms the effect of organisations such as Bedford Row, in terms of how their services cost the state and other service providers less in the long run.

The report estimates that the Bedford Row Family Project “generated a value of €4,761,761.42 over that three-year period. The accumulated three-year cost of delivering services stands at €855,000 and demonstrates a return of 5.56 times the investment of €855,000 or €5.56 for every €1 invested”.

“The evidence of impact can be revealed by the savings made by the state from reductions in re-offending due to the intervention of Bedford Row. This can be demonstrated by a service which provides non-time-specific, one-to-one encouragement and support in a friendly, person-centred environment which results in a reduction in the numbers of people returning to prison. Bedford Row delivers services in the area of family cohesion, social inclusion, health, education and training which have resulted in a change of direction in the lives of many affected by imprisonment,” the report states.

The evaluation shows that between 2009 and 2011, more than 18 times as many relatives of prisoners (363) engaged with the projects services as did serving inmates in Limerick (20). But Bedford Row did help 100 ex-prisoners over the same period of time.

The report can be viewed at www.bedfordrow.ie.