February 27, 2009
Please visit the Prison Learning Network at http://prisonlearningnetwork.rsablogs.org.uk/
February 25, 2009
You can never be fully prepared for working with offenders in the community. (I’m talking in terms of the ‘cohort’, about the group that we can generalise about, that we make assumptions about and often base interventions on.) But I have to say that this training has gone a long way to make sure that I have the tools at hand to cope with whatever might arise.
Establishing and reinforcing the boundaries of the mentor relationship sometimes goes against every natural instinct you might have about interacting with people who need help, but they are essential in ensuring that the mentee achieves the success they strive for. The mentor enables the mentee to take responsibility and make changes to their own lives. Mentors do not help, they support. This is a professional relationship, it is not a friendship. There are goals and objectives. There are time limits. There will be an end.
February 15, 2009
As an intervention mentoring works to reduce the likelihood of re-offending while increasing positive life outcomes such as education, training and employment for those individuals who might otherwise become locked in a cycle of offending.
Over the past year I have visited around 14 prisons across the country and in each have heard about or seen some type of mentor scheme taking place ranging from ones focussed on literacy like Toe-by-Toe to others focussed on housing needs like St Giles Trust.
These schemes, often delivered by agencies outside of the Prison Service, provide an essential and sometimes unique service to thousands of individuals across the CJS. They are essential to reducing re-offending – even the Home Office says so but there’s a problem in finding the evidence to prove it.
Thanks to the Ideas Project, I’ve been working with a Senior Officer at HMP High Down to set up a mentor scheme to help prisoners who have received sentences of less than 12 months (The Lighthouse Mentor Scheme). Even though our primary aim is to help the individuals involved we are not naive to the challenge of measuring and demonstrating the effectiveness of the scheme in a way that both recognises the individualism of the intervention and fits within a more standard framework of measurement to be able to prove our case.
There seems to be an appetite for mentoring as an intervention to become far more embedded across the prison service but the case must be proven beyond the anecdote. The challenge is for all schemes to build a standard framework as well as agree an accessible common language. The RSA Prison Learning Network is particularly keen to explore this further and will be developing a kind of ‘call for action’ in its final report due later this year.
February 11, 2009
One under reported impact of the recession is that it makes it much harder to reintegrate ex-prisoners into society.
Strong evidence shows that having a stable job is key to avoiding re-offending. So with economists forecasting a 12 year high in the total number of unemployed people by next year – 3 million – it doesn’t look hopeful for ex-prisoners. The skies are looking black for the country’s recent graduates so imagine how bleak it must seem to those recently released from prison.
Even with the recent focus of resettlement work on getting prisoners into employment, times are going to be hard especially when [too] often the development has been in those industries that are being affected most by the recession such as construction.