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Projects to help keep ex-prisoners and offenders on the ‘straight and narrow’ have received £1.8 million in National Lottery good cause funding from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG). The projects help communities suffering from crime by working with former offenders in Yorkshire, London, West Midlands and women leaving prisons across England to reduce reoffending.
Some 39 projects across the country are sharing £10 million in funding yesterday from Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme, which aims to help those most in need and build stronger communities.
Women In Prison has received £457,747 for The Triangle Project, a new project of support to women in and leaving custody across England to help them reintegrate back into the community.
The organisation has had proven success following its ‘through the gate’ support, where support works meet the women while in prison and again when they step outside the prison gate to help them gain access to housing, education, employment and health advice services following release. This is offered in conjunction with practical advice and information from surgeries while in custody. A through the gate project with 43 women from BAME backgrounds ran between July 2010 and June 2011 and only one woman reoffended during that year.
A new counselling service both in custody and after release will address psychological and emotional issues such as depression and lack of confidence. New independent living skills will also be provided, including budgeting, paying bills, applying for jobs or training.
Rachel Halford, Director of Women in Prison, said: “There are around 4,100 women in prison in England, women who have a range of complex problems including histories of mental health issues, domestic and sexual abuse, substance dependency, and lack of education and employment. This new project has been shaped by feedback from the women who have recognised the lack of structured support before and after prison covering both emotional and practical needs in a consistent manner.
“As a result of this funding, more women leaving prison will be able to access this support, ensuring a smooth transition from custody to community and reducing their likelihood of reoffending.”
A project which supports offenders and ex-offenders in Bradford and Leeds to secure employment and training and reduce re-offending has received £288,737 in funding from BIG. The project by CSV will recruit and train 60 people to be volunteer mentors to provide support to people referred from West Yorkshire Probation Trust, local prisons, and self-referrals for up to 26 weeks, up to four hours a week.
The project expects to support 360 offenders who have been released from prison or serving community sentences and will be particularly focussed on persistent and prolific offenders facing issues like poor accommodation, lack of employment, training, education and poor mental health. The organisation monitored a group of 18 offenders and 72% had not offended within 12 months of completing the mentoring programme.
CSV Operations Director Sarah Armstrong, said: “We are so relieved and excited about this grant – if it wasn’t for this funding we would have stopped the project but now we can build upon what we learnt during our pilot project. Offenders that want to turn their lives around will get the support to do that. By helping ex-offenders to access a training course, improve their chances of getting a job or find secure accommodation, we help them stay out of trouble.”
In London the Foundation Training Company Limited has received £333,020 to continue to fund a project to rehabilitate ex-prisoners. It will deal with literacy, social skills, computer skills and setting goals for what they want to achieve in life to improve the prospects of the offenders and divert them away from crime. Between 500 and 600 ex-offenders who live in Lambeth and Hackney will receive support.
In the West Midlands, Fircrost College Trust received £120,000 to reduce reoffending rates of persistent and prolific offenders to enable a successful transition from life in prison to society. During a ten week residential course they will undertake basic courses in different life skills including literacy, numeracy, ICT, teamwork, employability alongside areas of personal development such as coping with stress and managing anger and advice on housing and self-employment. The group will use links with HMP Hewell in Worcestershire to identify suitable offenders coming to the end of their sentence. The group will work with 60 male offenders aged around 24-35 years old from Worcestershire, West Midlands and Warwickshire.
Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund’s England Chair, said: “BIG has learned that support to offenders before and after they leave prison and enabling ex-offenders to positively change their lives, can be one of the best remedies to break the cycle of re-offending. The voluntary and community organisations funded today have identified ways to get to the heart of this issue which blights lives, families and communities.
“This funding will enable lives to be rebuilt, and provide hope and create opportunities to prevent the damage, cost and impact to the lives of people and communities most in need.”
For a full list of projects receiving funding from Reaching Communities today, click here
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Notes to Editors
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