A Fresh Start? Overcoming Obstacles Upon Release from Prison
On a cold winter morning, Joshua stepped out onto the streets after spending a long time in prison. It was his first sentence, and since being incarcerated he had lost his previous job, with no prospect of regaining it, along with many of his friends and family. He had nowhere to go, save from a probation hostel.
Whilst in custody, Joshua had developed a drug addiction, but he went on to engage with a ‘CARATs’ team that helped him. However, the temptations on release came back with greater force. Faced with a chaotic hostel environment and frustrated with his lack of progress in getting a job, Joshua reverted to his previous drug use. This inevitably led to him re-offending, and within weeks he was recalled to prison.
From thereon Joshua relapsed further, getting extra days for bad behavior in custody, as well as being put on suicide watch for self-harm. Although he got released some years later, the situation was essentially the same as before. With no stable housing provided beyond the hostel environment, and no living wage for a job, he felt there were no other options but prison and crime.
Joshua’s story, continues, and it is by no means unique. To what extent is he responsible for his reintegration and re-offending, we have to ask?
StarUp CIC believes that people like Joshua should receive adequate support – both during and after custody – to enable them to effectively reintegrate back into society and to turn away from crime. For many reasons, we believe there are currently gaps in what support is offered. We exist to address some of those gaps, and hope the obstacles faced by Joshua and those like him can be more easily overcome for the benefit of society as a whole.
The Power of the Pen Empowering People through Writing
Arguably, reading and writing is one of the most important social skills anyone can learn. With the development of technology, it has become used more than any other means of communication. Writing is also a vital means of expression, allowing people to articulate their emotions, record their experiences and impart their knowledge.
To this extent, we have partnered with other organisations – including the Arkbound Foundation charity – to help deliver a mentoring and workshop programme whereby people can develop their writing skills. The aim is not only to up-skill participants, so they can more easily access different sectors of the job market, but also to empower them with access to the publishing world.
‘Seeing a book I have written being available in book stores was life changing,‘ one participant noted, ‘and writing the words was like some kind of metamorphosis.’ Another participant went on to secure a job in a media company, after first entering prison being unable to read, with others managing to secure other positions.
For more information on this programme, please visit the Projects page.