Programmes aimed at helping ex-prisoners reintegrate to benefit from £3.4m funding

Programmes aimed at helping ex-prisoners reintegrate to benefit from £3.4m funding

Four programmes aimed at helping people leaving prison reintegrate with their communities are set to receive £3.4 million from the Scottish government.

The mentoring services provide specialist one-to-one support and guidance to prison leavers, offering help to overcome the challenges many face on release, from dealing with problems such as ill-heath, debt or substance abuse, as well as assisting with longer-term aims like finding a job or rebuilding family relationships.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Scotland’s firm focus on prevention and rehabilitation to avoid people being drawn into cycles of reoffending has contributed to a 19-year low in reconviction rates – helping to keep crime down and communities safe.

“We know that practical and personal problems faced by people leaving prison make it harder to reintegrate and can lead to reoffending. However, when I speak to people who have benefited from mentoring of this kind they are very clear that many of these issues are preventable.

“Being imprisoned can often exacerbate issues which underlie offending behaviour – so mentoring support starts while people are still in custody and continues when they return to their community and family. Whether it is finding somewhere permanent to stay or dealing with money worries, mentors help to ensure that problems are recognised and dealt with so they don’t lead to bigger issues.”

One of the programmes receiving funding is New Routes, a national service offering support to 18 to 25-year-old-men who have served custodial sentences of up to four years.

The process starts up to six months before individuals are released and includes planning ahead to help avoid common problems such as homelessness. The skilled mentors are experienced third sector workers and many are ex-offenders who can also share their own experiences of returning to everyday life after time in prison.

Sean Duffy, chief executive of the Wise Group, which leads the partnership of agencies delivering the New Routes programme, said: “Working in partnership to deliver New Routes nationally, this funding from the Scottish government will allow our proven mentoring approach to positively impact more lives and further reduce reoffending.

“We will also be able explore new ways to support the justice system in providing a viable alternative to custody, such as embedding mentoring in community sentencing options.”

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