Reducing reoffending and preventing homelessness through mentoring
We have been funded by Vestey Holdings to run our mentoring project for residents of HMP Warren Hill, near Woodbridge in Suffolk, for a third year running. Please note that we are no longer recruiting for mentors for this project, which comes to an end in December 2021.
The aim of the project is a reduction of reoffending rates for former residents of HMP Warren Hill. As our key aim is to prevent homelessness we want to make sure that our mentees not only stay out of prison but are able to sustain a tenancy. Statistics prove that people are less likely to reoffend if they have a safe and secure home.
Data from the Ministry of Justice under a freedom of information request showed that out of all adult prisoners released in 2016
67% of those who slept rough or were otherwise homeless went on to commit another crime within a year.
Mentoring enables people leaving custody to thrive, to avoid reoffending and to live independent lives contributing to:
- a reduction in crime
- a reduction in support needed in supported accommodation and other settings
- a reduction in the number of future evictions
- a reduction in unemployment and benefit claims.
George Vestey, the driving force and funder behind the project (as well as volunteer mentor) said
‘I recognise the immense difficulties faced by prisoners returning to their communities, particularly in terms of the support (or lack of) available to them. This mentoring approach with its non-judgemental asset-based approach is so positive for mentees that I enjoy having the chance to make a difference in a very small way.’
The difference mentors make
The positives of having a Your Own Place mentor are best described by our mentees themselves.
‘Twice I was in a very bad place and thought what is the point – might as well get banged up again, I have had enough but by the end of the conversation I am either having a laugh or doing something about the problem – try a few options. Bounce a few ideas around.‘
‘I’ve been away a long time and so my support network is very limited. I feel good to know that in the first difficult months there’s someone there on the end of a phone. I feel very lucky to have been put forward. I consider it an honour almost as the person mentoring me is doing it out of their own time.’
The end of year impact report from year 1 of the project can be read here.
‘Thanks so much for the training course, I found it very interesting and useful! And inspiring, I can’t stop thinking about it. Everyone I talk to about it seems to be equally interested, there’s a lot that isn’t known about prisons and the prison system.‘
‘I learnt so much in the two days; not least on the complex issues of not advising but encouraging the mentee to find their own solution; and also on the confidentiality aspect. You were clever to make it so interactive and even fun.’
The last words go to another of our amazing mentors …
I have found it absolutely humbling to meet my mentee, to learn about his attributes, of which there are many, and then to join him on his journey back into the community. It is sometimes difficult to defy the instinct to intervene with direct help but what I have learned is that it is so important for him to know that he has someone there who will listen, celebrate achievements no matter how large or small and encourage focus and resilience when frustrations occur. After many years of being told what to do it is a huge but rewarding change for him to have someone asking him what he thinks he should do and in the process enabling him to take ownership of his actions.
Having a person to listen, encourage and support is a vital part of their successful rehabilitation. I really commend this mentoring project as a means of discovering something about yourself but more importantly learning about the skills, attributes and capabilities of someone who has had to overcome difficulties to get to where they are today and helping to harness them for the new set of challenges they will be imminently undertaking.‘