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Spring 2024 Newsletter

Dear supporters, 

Welcome to our quarterly newsletter, It is shaping up to be an exciting year for us with our team growing and lots of upcoming events. In January we were delighted to welcome Rebecca as our new volunteer coordinator who, in her first 3 months, has already had a measurable impact, particularly with volunteer recruitment. This has come at an excellent time as 90% of our volunteer mentors are currently active with a mentee in the community. It can be tricky as a small charity amongst so much need to know where to focus resources and prioritise help. Over the pandemic, with our volunteer programme paused, staff spent their time responding to urgent cases where men found themselves released with no accommodation and many services shut. In the following months and years we have had to remain flexible in our programmes to respond to environment prone to dramatic changes. We know that the strength of our work comes from long term, trusted relationships where those we support can grow in confidence and use our network to build a life for themselves. However, this is hard to do when you don't have a roof over your head or money in your pocket. That's why our four core activities—Support in Prison, Through the Gate, Mentoring, and Next Chapter—guide individuals from addressing urgent needs to realising their potential. Thank you for supporting and engagement. 

Josh Brettell


CEO

 

Brand new website

🌟 Exciting News 🌟



🎉 We're thrilled to announce the launch of our brand-new website 



Take a look to learn more about our work, read inspiring stories and keep up to date on upcoming events



 

We are excited to announce our new fundraising event WALK BEYOND BARS.


A 21 mile sponsored relay-walk across London, passing London prisons to highlight stories and raise money for Change for Good on May 18th.


Walk Beyond Bars was conceptualised in our Next Chapter peer-support group, made up of members who have all experienced what it is like to leave prison and transition to a life in the community.


Over 70% of those we support leave prison without accommodation or some of the most basic needs to live a stable life.


Members, volunteers and prison staff will take part in a sponsored relay walk to raise money to ensure people leaving prison get the support they need.


If you're able to, please consider making a donation to support this cause.


 

Mentor's Corner

Gwyn,


Volunteer mentor


Six months ago, I met Jim in a café in Clapham Junction. Steve, from Change for Good, steered me in, saying that Jim was worried about meeting me. “Oh!” I thought. “Maybe I should be worried about meeting him!”


As a prison visitor, I had met many prisoners while they were in prison. Conversation was usually easy because most of them were lonely and fed up and just needed someone who was prepared to listen to their troubles. I did not want to be tactless with Jim and remind him of his time in prison and so I was wondering how we would start. We began, of course, with banalities (how did he like his coffee, wasn’t the weather awful) and, in no time, he was telling me how he met his wife. Once we discovered that we both supported Manchester United, the friendship was sealed.


Since then, I have met him once a week. We meet in Waterloo, get a cup of coffee and chat for about an hour. As well as football and TV, I ask him about the various hurdles he has encountered – problems to do with accommodation and benefits, usually. As a mentor, you do not need to solve any of these: the staff at Change for Good provide all the expert advice that is required. I simply give a listening ear and, if I can manage to think of something encouraging to say, then I do.


Jim has also told me about his childhood and, most excitingly, he started turning these memories into a written account of his life story. Week by week, we have fallen into the pattern of his bringing me his latest chapter for my comments. He takes my editing suggestions very well and the writing is increasingly vivid and confident.


Change for Good has now provided Jim with a word processor and he is well on the way to completing a book.


Every time I meet him, he has a bigger spring in his step. Those worries in Clapham Junction are long gone.


 

Next Chapter

"When I went to prison, I was excommunicated from my family and friends, had no housing or future prospects. What I gained from Next Chapter was more than just practical support, it was family"


Our peer support group Next Chapter is close to wrapping up another 10 week programme. Each time is completely different in both content and members. This time we had men's mental health groups, sports, work experience, a history tour and a visit to parliament!


Included in this programme was a visit to a fantastic initiative, XO Bikes. Run by the team from Onwards and Upwards, XO Bike trains prison leavers in bike maintenance to help them grow in confidence and find employment. From the branding to the care and space they give those they work with, we all were inspired by the trip and it certainly gave our members lots to think about. Find our more on their website- https://xobikes.com/


We are so grateful to all those who contributed and gave up their time including Tim, Gwyn, Jackie and Oscar from Onwards and Upwards and all our volunteers.



 

Criminal Justice News

Prison or Eton?

The MOJ recently released information on the cost per place and costs per prisoner showing that on average a prison place cost more than Eton's tuition fees. With total costs amounting to £4.2 Billion in 2022/23.


Does probation push people back into prison?

There are now more than 200,000 people on probation across England and Wales. The original duties of a probation officer were clear-cut: 'advise, assist, and befriend.'

But with staff shortages and unmanageable caseloads leading to limited contact time, and power imbalance built into each interaction, are probation officers able to develop meaningful relationships and help people to turn their lives around? Or is the system actually pushing people back into prison?

  Hear hosts Rob and Penelope with writer and speaker David Shipley, who spent more than two years on probation, and community justice lecturer and former probation officer Julie Eden-Barnard.


Russell Webster's traditional Bank Holiday criminal justice quiz

Test your knowledge on this criminal justice quiz, staff got 5/10, let us know if you beat us!


Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Prisons annual report 

Mr Taylor outlines how despite the lifting of the final pandemic restrictions in May 2022, many prisons are still failing to return to pre-pandemic regimes which support prisoners’ rehabilitation. Other key findings are:

  • there was too little time out of cell in most men’s prisons, many of which were overcrowded and in poor condition

  • there were poor or not sufficiently good purposeful activity outcomes in all but one prison inspected; this was particularly concerning in men’s category C prisons

  • not enough key work was being done with prisoners, largely due to staff shortages

  • the treatment of women in prison suffering from extreme mental health difficulties was not good enough

  • violence remained a significant issue in youth custody with the use of ‘keep aparts’ to manage high levels of conflict between groups


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