Dear all, What a year it has been for us at Change for Good with lots to celebrate and reflect on. We experienced many milestones this year including re-launching our peer support group Next Chapter, expanding into our 3rd prison HMP Brixton, mentoring numbers more than doubled, welcoming an additional support worker Lorraine. We have also seen a greater levels of hardship faced by those we support, many of our mentees surviving on tighter and tighter budgets, often relying on foodbanks and soup kitchens to get by as well as seeing the lack of housing options for prison releases leaving many in desperate situations.
Change for Good suffered a great loss with the passing of our Chair of Trustees, Matthew Devlin who's contributions cannot be overstated. We'd like to thank the many people who donated in his memory and our thoughts and prayers are with his family over this festive period.
The picture above is from our peer support group Next Chapter's final meet up before the Christmas break. We took a trip to see Koestler Art's annual exhibition of art by people in the UK's criminal justice system. After, we dived in from the cold to grab a coffee in a cafe for our final check in of the year (a very familiar practice for members who were with us during the pandemic when we were without a venue but determined to keep the support network alive). Wei, a new member has been 'out' a couple of months after his first custodial sentence, now in a probation hostel he is settling into a new and yet restricted life. Separated from family, the majority of his contacts are professionals from various organisations. He described the effect of constantly hearing labels like 'high risk', 'offender' and 'dangerous' to which John, long time member and ambassador cut in, 'Not to us mate, you're Wei'. This moment encapsulated power of peer support where identities can be affirmed in the contributions they make, not on past mistakes. This group has been such a source of encouragement this year and I am excited to see how they develop it the future.
I would like to take this opportunity to say a special thank you to our volunteers who have been so generous with their time and energy this year, supporting people resettle after prison right across the city.
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Wishing you all a very happy Christmas,