19 September 2012
Working with ex-offenders
The North Staffordshire Community Chaplaincy has been nominated for an Inspire Award for their work to rehabilitate and support ex-offenders.
The Community Chaplaincy is an integral part of The Saltbox Christian Centre’s dedication to social responsibility and care for the vulnerable in Stoke and the surrounding area where re-offending rates are as high as 72 per cent.
When the project started in 2004, it was dedicated to mentoring and support; whilst this part of their work continues, they have also evolved to provide life skills and practical skills programmes.
The manager, Andrew Boyle, said “The support we give to the clients ranges depending on their needs. It can be as little as finding them their own accommodation, or as much as making sure they get to appointments, engage with drug services and more.”
They now offer 89 beds for male and female clients, and housed 200 people in the last year. Seeking to reconcile family relationships and reintegrate people into community life is another aspect of their work.
The Chaplaincy receive referrals from organisations such as the probation service, Salvation Army, the police and social services, and carry out careful assessments before deciding whether people will benefit from their services.
The project has seen a huge success rate since it has started. Of its 89 service users, currently only 5 per cent of them re-offend, compared to 68 per cent nationally, and 77 per cent in Stoke.
The Community Chaplaincy is available for clients from the moment they leave prison. Andrew Boyle said: “We feel that the first hour of release is crucial, as people need to feel secure and not have the temptation to use drugs or alcohol.”
John Cunningham, who nominated the Community Chaplaincy for the award said: “They don’t take the soft stuff!” as many of the referrals come those who deal specifically with prolific and persistent offenders.