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24th June 2015

Pilot scheme paves the way

Wesley and Brian (left and right) meet with Young Advisor's Rosie Wallbanks to promote the scheme.

Wesley and Brian (left and right) meet with Young Advisor’s Rosie Wallbanks to promote the scheme.

ALMOST 50 offenders have benefitted from a pilot scheme aimed at improving participant’s confidence and employability.

The Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company commissioned Young Advisors to work with offenders during a year-long initiative that finishes in August, 2015. The charity trains people aged from 15 to 24 so they can become involved in local decision making and improving services.

As part of the scheme, offenders on Intensive Community Orders (ICO) meet with the charity’s Rosie Wallbank once a week.

Probation’s young advisors have created a film to be used to induct new offenders onto ICOs, have met with Community Payback assistant operations manager Barry Wilson to discuss how to develop the service and have taken part in presentations with other agencies to discuss probation and the wider criminal justice service.

Wesley, a young advisor, is on a 12-month suspended sentence order for assault and has completed all his requirements.

He said: “At first I didn’t want to do my order, or to come in here. But I changed my mind because I didn’t want to go back to jail. Then I found I learned a lot on ICO, the team is really good.”

The 25-year-old is a regular with the Young Advisors and took part in a presentation attended by CGM CRC’s chief executive Chris Noah in which he spoke about his experiences.

He said: “I’ve got more confidence now. I was nervous before the presentation, I never did that sort of stuff before.

“Meeting people, getting to know some of the other lads, and doing the training has been good. My communication skills are much better, and you’ve got to know how to communicate otherwise you’ll get nowhere.”

The ICO team commissioned the Young Advisors because they wanted to encourage offenders to provide feedback about their experiences on probation and to contribute to how it develops.

Rosie said: “We want to empower people and give them the confidence to speak up.

“It’s the first time we’ve been involved with probation and I’ve loved the experience. Many of probation’s participants come from chaotic backgrounds, and that’s a new area for the charity, so seeing how some of those we’ve supported have developed has been humbling.

“Two of our participants have achieved permanent employment, and while that isn’t purely down to our support, it’s clear that the young advisors have gained an awful lot of new skills and then been able to apply them to help them get on. In essence, that is what we are all about.”

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