Making North Warwickshire a Safer Place to Live.
A new Social Enterprise has been launched in North Warwickshire. The Crossroads Trust will be providing outreach peer mentoring support to low risk ex-offenders released from prison. The Trust will also support individuals with community sentences and those struggling to cope with the challenges of having a criminal record. Supported by Warwickshire County Council and UnLtd a national charity supporting social entrepreneurs. The Crossroads Trust is based at Community House in Atherstone and serving Nuneaton, Bedworth, Atherstone and surrounding areas.
On the day of release from prison a volunteer mentor from the Crossroads Trust will collect the reformed offender from the prison gate. Assessing the individuals immediate needs the Crossroads Trust will provide the much needed support required to help with the individual’s integration and resettlement back into the local community. The purpose of the Trust is to reduce the risk of re-offending by working with the individual and providing the support necessary to help them go straight. Up until now often the support has not been available or accessible and individuals will leave prison with just a £46 discharge grant, and often have nowhere to go or nobody to help them. For those individuals sentences to less than 12 months the system often sets them up to fail as these individuals do not come under supervision of the Probation Service.
Crossroads is a new innovative way of working with ex-offenders utilising peer mentors who themselves have experienced the criminal justice system and are now positive members of the community. Some of whom are now successful in business themselves. As peer mentors they know leaving prison can be a frightening experience when you have no support. The consequence of which is likely to be an immediate return to alcohol and substance misuse and mixing with a bad crowd. A one way route back into trouble and eventually a return to prison. The Crossroads Trust will help break this depressing merry go round of re-offending in North Warwickshire. In doing so help make Warwickshire a safer place to live.
A mentor at the prison gate can help reduce anxiety and will be there as a helping hand guiding them to lawful resettlement. Crossroads will help the individual with accommodation needs, debt issues, access to healthcare, applying for benefits to prevent payment delays. The mentor can also help them with disclosure issues and support them to gain meaningful employment whether this is paid or voluntary work.
“When someone leaves prison they are often facing a crossroad. They have choices. They can take the past road to a life of crime which will always ultimately end up with them going back inside. Or they can take the straight road to becoming a law abiding citizen. Taking the straight road will not be easy and no doubt they will face many potholes along the way which can cause a relapse. Our peer mentors are living proof they can do it and change their lives for the better. Our mentors give them hope by building their self-confidence and self-esteem. Their mentor will be there to guide them on their new journey and signpost them where necessary so they stay focussed and keep on the track. The amazing thing is that within 12 months they may become a mentor themselves and help someone else in need.”
John Beesley, Crossroads Trust Operations Manager
The Crossroads Trust is managed by 5 Directors and has over 25 volunteers from the communities of North Warwickshire. This includes ex-offenders with spent convictions, former probation officers, a former prison officer, policewoman and a FA Soccer coach.
“This is all about encouraging positive relationships. Our mentors provide the individual with a positive role model. Sometimes for the first time in their life. Mentoring will have its challenges but all of our mentors are dedicated to help turn the individual’s life around for the better. To see someone complete the journey from the transitional phase of leaving prison to a law abiding structured positive life is incredible.”
Keiran McDonald, Crossroads Trust Employment Engagement Manager
Notes for Editors
· The Crossroads Trust will be having its operational launch event at the Red Lion Hotel, Long St, Atherstone on Saturday May 31st 2–4pm. Press are invited by invitation only. Contact John@crossroadstrust.org.uk to confirm attendance.
· Guest speaker will be Jonathan Robinson. He has personal experience of a short stay as a guest of her Majesty. He is the author of published books “In it and On it” telling about his experience of prison life in both closed and open conditions.
· Crime rates are falling nationally and the good news is Warwickshire has one of the lowest rates of recorded crime in the country. However the rate of re-offending remains high at 60% for those sentenced to less than a 12 month prison sentence. This is a depressing statistic and highlights there is something wrong if the same individuals keep returning back to prison time and time again. Did you know it costs the tax-payer £45,000 a year to keep someone in prison for a year?
· The Government has recognised things need to change with how individuals are managed when they leave prison in order to break the cycle of re-offending. The Transforming Rehabilitation Programme is currently seeing major change in the structure of organisational support for ex-offenders in the community. The scene has been set for new agencies to come to the fold and work with ex-offenders differently and innovatively to help reduce the risk of re-offending and promote safer communities in North Warwickshire.
· The Crossroads Trust is embracing the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme by facilitating a peer mentoring support service for individuals leaving prison. The Trust also recognises there are many individuals already in the community with criminal records who need support. They have often lost their self-confidence, have low self esteem and become socially excluded. All of which increase the risk of re-offending.
· As well as peer mentoring support the Trust has a number of Projects to help support individuals. Each project is tailored to individual need. Details can be found on the Crossroad Trust website.
John Beesley, Operations Manager
Aims and Activities of the Crossroads Trust:
The mission of the Crossroads Trust is to break the cycle of reoffending by peer mentoring law abiding citizens with criminal records resettling to and already living in North Warwickshire and surrounding areas. In particular Nuneaton where most of the clients are based.
1. The objects of the Social Enterprise are:
(a) To provide support for individuals involved in the justice system who want to make a positive change for themselves and their families, providing services that are aimed at reducing re-offending in the north Warwickshire and surrounding areas;
(b) To provide services designed to have a positive impact supporting individuals change their life for the better, including support with housing, benefits, health, addiction and debt management;
(c) To provide peer mentoring, training and support groups, using a person centred approach to guide and support each individual to develop different aspects of their lives.
(d) To provide activities that support those who are disadvantaged in the labour market with work experience and employment opportunities, helping with their reintegration into society and promoting social inclusion;
(e) To work with families of offenders, ex-offenders and those at risk of exclusion;
(f) To provide services by associating with voluntary organisations, local authorities, health organisations, local communities and local organisations in a common effort to provide services enabling individuals to move forward with their lives;
(g)To manage and improve the facilities and services of the Company which, in the opinion of the Directors, may enhance the sustainability of the Company.
Ministry of Justice, Transforming Rehabilitation: A Strategy for Reform May 2013,
THE CROSSROADS TRUST BOARD OF DIRECTORS