Helping offenders helps us all

One of the best ways to cut crime and so make communities safer is to help offenders find work, is the conclusion of a report* discussed at a seminar at Stoke on Trent College on Thursday July 7th.
The college has been involved in helping former offenders in a scheme called City Break which finds work placements for ex-offenders.
“We wanted to find 25 employer placements but in fact we got 43. So the message is gradually getting out there that ex-offenders need work same as everyone else does. Our City Break scheme was very effective. We got a number into employment and look forward to continuing with the scheme for the next nine months,” commented Jeremy Clay, Senior Contracts Manager at the College
Commissioned by the Safer City Partnership and conducted by Wider Impact, the report highlights the excellent practice being delivered across the city and relevant shortfalls and barriers where they exist.
This pioneering seminar gave everyone involved the chance to build on the work providing support and services to people with criminal convictions. The express aim is to reduce re-offending through education, training and employment.
Key speakers at the seminar were:
·         Helena Shone  – Training Manager- Seddon
·         Dal Veysey –  Regional Operations Director – Pertemps (PPDG)
·         Edwin Lewis – Wider Impact
“The seminar was a great success bringing together the many organisations working to cut crime across the city and county.
“The benefits to the general society are massive if an offender is channelled away from a life of crime (and away from the revolving doors to prison) and the positive effect on the community, their families and their own self-worth are immeasurable,” added Jeremy Clay.
The main findings of the Wider Impact’s report are:-
1.     There are pockets of excellence across the city. However this needs to be centrally managed to enable the holistic rehabilitation and reintegration process to be more effective.
2.     Where support is delivered as part of a generic approach the individual’s needs are neither properly identified or met. However where specialist teams such as City Break and STAR have been implemented, the results are excellent.
3.     There needs to be more robust, cross city links between agencies and better communication so any support can be given collaboratively.  For instance finding someone a work placement may not be the best result if the individual has still not fully resolved issues such as drug or alcohol dependency. With better communication between the agencies the timing of such support can be more effectively planned.
4.     Employers play a major role in assisting the process of rehabilitation by offering placements where possible, giving people the chance to prove they are a potential employee.
5.     Support such as peer mentoring is invaluable to offenders as they see those who have been through similar life experiences as people who can empathise with them.
Overall the findings point out that agencies working in the city need to have an approach for better results which includes:
·         Cooperation
·         Communication
·         Collaboration
·         Coordination
“By carefully considering what is working as well as what needs to improve, the seminar and the report which inspired it really can make a difference not just to ex-offenders’ lives but to everyone’s.
“Helping ex-offenders really does help us all and we very much look forward to building on this work and taking it forward next year,” added Jeremy Clay.
The college has now received funding to continue with the scheme till next March.
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