Works for Freedom
Works for Freedom supports practice that empowers, by sharing knowledge and experience.
Website URL: http://www.worksforfreedom.org
Work this Way provide training, work experience, employment opportunities and support to prisoners nearing the end of their sentence.
Work this Way has set up voluntary and paid work experience placements, drawing on third sector and public sector partnerships to help prisoners or ex-prisoners find employment. Along with accredited training and practical skills, individuals involved in the programme are be mentored and trained to develop essential work skills such as communications, timekeeping and team-working.
They currently run two programmes: Waste Works, where individuals are trained how to create beautiful furniture from waste, and Oil Works, where individuals learn how to take used cooking oils from prison kitchens and local businesses and turn it into clean Bio-diesel. Both of these are run at HMP Standford Hill in Kent.
After completing the programmes, all participants are offered follow-up support as they seek work. This could include practical and technical advice or making contact with relevant support agencies.
Miss Macaroon is a social enterprise that aims to help young care leavers and individuals who have had involvement in the criminal justice system in order to improve their skills and gain sustainable employment.
There are various workshops available that teach marginalised young people expert culinary skills, all the while improving their confidence, team working skills, social development skills and setting and achieving goals.
The experience in the work place alone is vital, and individuals are supported into further training if they wish to do so.
Street Doctors teach high-risk young people to deliver life saving first aid skills. They teach these young people the essential knowledge about dealing with stab and gun wounds, the basic biology behind them, and how to stay calm before help arrives.
In their workshops, that last between one and two hours, the Street Doctors aim to educate the high-risk youth with essential knowedge but also hope to change their attitudes towards violent crime and carrying weapons in the first place.
The charity was started in 2008 by two young medical students, however it has continued to grow and receive more support and is now available in most major English cities.
The Women at Risk Coalition is made up of frontline staff, senior psychiatrists, psychologists, academics and funders who between them have worked in the social care, health and criminal justice systems for many years.
They are united by a commitment to address the epidemic of mental illness among female prisoners and women at risk of criminal justice capture in Britain; an epidemic that more often than not stems from traumatic events earlier on in their lives.
From 24th March to 7th April this year, the Women at Risk Coalition will be working with the world's leading expert on trauma in custody, Dr Stephanie Covington, to deliver an ambitious programme of training and awareness raising among policy makers, criminal justice and health workers, ex-prisoners, trauma survivors and activists.
The impact of trauma
Emotional trauma can have adverse impacts on the lives of women and girls, including leading to involvement in the criminal justice system and prison secure psychiatric accommodation, chronic use of drugs and alcohol, street sex work, homelessness and other poor life trajectories.
In most systems women appear in disproportionately small numbers: five percent of the prison population; a third of the population detained in mental health settings; a third of the single homeless population in contact with services. Their needs, however, are often extreme in comparison with the majority of men in similar systems.
The populations recorded in each of these 'systems' overlap; they are essentially the same women.
Starting a revolution
Dr Stephanie Covington, is coming to Britain to kick start a revolution in how we treat female survivors of trauma in both custody and in the community. She will be concentrating on the unique needs of women and to expand on gender responsive policies and practices for women and girls at risk.
From parliament to the frontline, from Scotland to London, she will work with policy makers, frontline staff, the police, former prisoners and survivors of trauma in order to highlight how trauma manifests itself differently in women and girls and how important it is embed a gendered response in policy decisions.
The training she will provide will be the start of a real shift in how people who work with vulnerable women and girls react to the challenging behaviours they come up against, such as anger, risk-taking and self-harm. A wider range of practioners will learn about skills and exercises that can be incorporated into work with women in a variety of settings in order to make sure that women are coming out of prison less likely put themselves in damaging situations.
Taking forward the agenda
Over the coming weeks Works for Freedom will be hosting commentary and analysis on Stephanie Covington's visit by members of the Women at Risk Coalition. They will cover a range of issues, from the why the visit is so important and what the Coalition hopes to achieve, to what they plan to do to take forward this important agenda over the longer-term and how you can get involved.
The Passage runs London's largest voluntary sector day centre for homeless and vulnerable people: each day they help up to 200 men and women.
Their eight-strong team of Outreach Workers makes contact, often late at night or early in the morning, with those sleeping rough in Victoria as they are bedding down or getting up each day.
Their 40-bed hostel, Passage House, was officially opened on 1 March 2000. In the year 1 April to 31 March 2013, 23 residents completed a planned move on.
Their 16 self-contained studio flats in Montfort House have staff support on site and specialise in helping very long term rough sleepers.
They welcome and treat clients with respect and dignity, and find out what they need and want. They also offer professional and appropriate advice and help according to the client's needs and aspirations, so that they can agree an action plan with clients which is time limited with the aim of supporting clients out of homelessness.
The Royal London Society is one of the world's oldest charities that focuses on the rehabilitation of those sanctioned by the criminal justice system.
They know that employment radically reduces reoffending rates and therefore strive to help people gain employment and break the circle of reoffending. A way they do this is by working with the ex-prisoner to ensure that they have the basic equipment and relevant forms for a job, helping them stay financially afloat until they reach their first pay day, and by working with employers so that they consider giving someone with a criminal record a chance.
You can look at their successful case studies on the Staight to Work programme here.
Haven Distribution assist prisoners by purchasing educational books so that they can use their time effectively in prison and complete courses such an NVQ, Open University and A-Levels.
The charity is able to buy books to the value of £20, per prisoner, per year. They aim to increase the self-worth and self-confidence for prisoners and hope to ensure that they go on to gain employment upon release in order to positively resetlle in to the community. Prisoners are encouraged to leave the books in the prison library once they have finished so that other individuals can also benefit from the scheme.
Haven also recognise that many people in prison may not have English as their first language, or may struggle with Dyslexia. Knowing this, Haven strives to provide multilibilngual dictionaries and also make larger print books and dictionaries available. They also provide a free catalogue of donated books from publishers, and books that are bought cheaply from remainder bookshops so that prisoners may have access to a range of books from Social Sciences such as Philosophy and Criminology, to Black Interest and political science, and some fictional works.
The Alternatives to Violence Project run workshops for people that want to deal with violence, conflict, strong emotions and build better relationships.
The workshops are available to anyone, and during them participants will explore the conflicts and relationships within their lives. The workshops aim to help people understand and believe in themselves, communicate with others better, learn new skills to use in difficult situations and understand why conflict happens.
Alternatives to Violence have also run in prisons across Britian (including HMPs Kilmarnock, Shepton Mallet and Woodhill). By working with prisoners to handle their conflicts, the risk of violent outcomes can fall. The workshops are an informal, highly effective approach combining experiential learning with practical skills training and are readily accessible to people of all backgrounds, including those with a low level of literacy or mental health problems.
Handmade Alliance is a social enterprise that works with prisoners and those who have just been released from prison in order to provide meaningful activity and an opportunity for work experience.
Their training courses specialise in textiles, retail and merchandise and as a result they manufacture products for British designers and create their own product range.
Handmade Alliance believe that collaborative work between prison services, agencies and social enterprises is critical to the delivery of integrated 'end to end' services. Their key aim is to prevent people from slipping through the gaps of fragmented services.
They are part of the York House Group, and engage with HMPs Brixton, Wormwood Scrubs, Holloway and many other services and charities across London.
Release is a centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law.
They provide non-judgemental, specialist advice and information to the public and professionals on issues related to drug use and to drug laws. They advocate for evidence-based research and policies that are founded on public health rather than a criminal justice approach.
Their website is full of matter-of-fact information on the effects of drugs, drugs and the law, how to properly use these drugs and how to reduce the harm that may be caused by them. As well as this they have published their policy papers, responses and annual reports on the site.