"My mentor at Spark2life helped me to open my mind and helped me to learn about forgiveness."
Prison In-reach is a project commissioned by Waltham Forest Gangs Prevention Programme. Our caseworkers work with offenders seeking to create an exit strategy prior to prison release. This strategy works to reintegrate the ex-offender back into their community and is executed in three phases:
Clients, aged 14-24 years old, are referred to us by a multi-agency referral panel that includes Waltham Forest’s Community Safety Team and Offender manager. Once this referral has been made, we allocate the client a worker; this worker will see the client within 2 weeks in the prison.
The worker goes into prison and begins building a relationship with the client. Once a rapport has been establish, they work with client to assess their immediate needs upon discharge put together a holistic support package for the longer term. This package is will last for a minimum period of 6 months – 3 months in prison and 3 months outside. This time frame is not concrete and can be extended based on the needs of the client. Typically each client is helped in the following areas:
- Benefits – signing clients on and providing them access to other benefits
- Mentoring – the biggest barrier for our clients is the way they think. We work to challenge our clients’ perceptions and thought patterns so that they undergo a paradigm shift in the way that around how they view themselves and others. In turn, clients are inspired to become aware of the needs of their communities and the impact wider impact of crime and violence. They also are encouraged to develop the social skills needed for them to be “work ready”
- Housing – we support clients to gain short-term and long-term accommodation in or outside the borough
- EET – Education, Employment or Training – clients, through other external agencies, are provided with support to gain any training or education needed to gain a job
We work with our clients for as long as is necessary to achieve the goals outlined above. By the time that is complete, the client should be:
- Released out of prison
- In employment or in education/training that will lead to employment
- In accommodation – in or out of the borough
All these points will enable our clients to become positive contributors to society.