Offender mentor hub launched
13 Jun 2013 01:52 PM
A dedicated mentoring website linking offenders to high-quality support to get their lives back on track is being launched yesterday.
The justmentoring website will, for the first-time, give prisoners or offenders in the community quick and easy access to a range of mentoring services, helping break the depressing cycle of crime many are trapped in.
They will be able to find help to address the root causes of their offending such as drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, unemployment and mental health issues.
Former criminals who have turned their back on crime will also be able to link up with mentoring organisations, where they can volunteer their knowledge and experience to work with current offenders, supporting them to ‘go straight’ from the moment they set foot in the community.
The website is seen as an exciting new online marketplace bringing together everyone interested in developing, delivering and commissioning quality mentoring services.
Reoffending rates have barely changed in a decade despite £4bn a year being spent on prisons and probation. More than 58 per cent of prisoners serving less than 12 months go on to commit further crime within a year of release.
The Government recently set out a raft of radical reforms to the way offenders are rehabilitated to tackle these stubbornly high reoffending rates and strike a balance between tough punishment and lasting rehabilitation.
The plans will see every prison leaver serve a minimum of 12 months’ supervision in the community and the creation of a network of resettlement prisons so nearly all offenders are released into the area in which they will live and be supervised.
Mentoring is an important part of these radical reforms and the justmentoring service will be key in linking offenders with organisations offering quality services.
Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: ‘I believe a positive role model helping offenders on release from prison can make the difference between them going straight or committing more crime and being back behind bars within weeks.
‘This hub will see more offenders linked up with quality mentors, which, together with greater supervision for our most prolific and chaotic offenders, finally will help tackle our stubbornly high reoffending rates, meaning less misery for victims and less cost to taxpayers.’
Support has also been made available to 200 organisations working with offenders to reach ‘approved provider standard’ with the aim of bringing greater quality-assurance to the sector.
Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind Prison Mentoring Project were the first group to achieve this standard through this targeted support, and will be presented with their certificate at the justmentoring launch today.
They work with male offenders being released from prisons throughout the North-East of England with mental health problems, helping them resettle into the community with support into housing, employment and voluntary placements.
Emma Howitt, Chief Executive of Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind said:
‘Achieving the standard and being part of justmentoring is so important to us because our mission is to improve the health and well-being of offenders in order to help turn them away from crime for good and get their lives’ back on track.
‘If people can contact us directly, either for support or to volunteer, it can only help.’
The development of justmentoring has been grant funded by the National Offender Management Service and is being managed by the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation.
Notes to editors