A VOLUNTARY organisation based near a Durham prison is looking for people to run a telephone helpline for families of prisoners

The Prisoners' Families helpline is a nationwide project that provides support and information for people with relatives or friends in jail.

Volunteers living within the Durham area are being sought to help run one of its telephone services at Brasside, Durham just outside the women's prison, Low Newton.

Regional co-ordinator Christine Lloyd said the helpline will not be launched until May, but they have been taking calls from families since January.

Volunteers at the centre can provide information on anything from benefits to visiting rights and can even contact the prison on behalf of families.

Ms Lloyd said: "We've taken quite a few calls where there's someone who has been arrested and gone into prison and the families have never been through anything like this. They wonder about things such as 'how do we visit?' 'What happens next?'"

Training will be provided for the helpers, who must be aged over 18. Although the work is unpaid, travelling expenses will be met.

Anyone interested is asked to contact Ms Lloyd on 0191-386 8335 or ring the helpline 0808 8082003