Brighter futures through Mayor’s upskilling pilot

People with experience of prison or probation are being helped to move on with their lives thanks to a pioneering scheme funded by the Mayor of West Yorkshire.

12th January 2024

 

People with experience of prison or probation are being helped to move on with their lives thanks to a pioneering scheme funded by the Mayor of West Yorkshire.

A pilot project saw a group of six work with ex-offender led charity, User Voice, to achieve a level one NCFE educational qualification.

They have also gained fixed term jobs as Peer Commissioners with User Voice.

User Voice and the Peer Commissioners will be an integral part of the Mayor’s upcoming work to re-commission a key victims’ service, restorative justice.

They will use their experience to ensure the service meets the complex needs of victims and engages offenders to help them reform.

Jay, who has lived experience of the criminal justice system, was struggling with confidence and self-belief before joining the project. In the future, he aims to continue helping other people from similar circumstances.

Jay, said: “My confidence is developing each time I come. It’s been fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for a better group.

“After volunteering on the project I want to continue to help others through hard situations like I’ve experienced and open new doors them and for myself.”

The group were awarded certificates by Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, and Alison Lowe OBE, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, at an event in Leeds this week.

West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracy Brabin, said: “I am on a mission to create a safer, fairer West Yorkshire and that includes supporting ex-offenders into employment and positive pathways.

“Whilst victims of crime remain at the heart of our work, it’s so important that we also support people leaving prison or probation and tackle underlying issues.

“We hope that the learning from this pilot will not only continue to help our communities locally but also be adopted nationally.”

Simon Boddis, CEO of User Voice, said: “This project brings people’s lived experience of the criminal justice system to the heart of systemic change. Over the past 14 years we have seen the positive effects that this can have not only on an individual’s life but also communities and the wider system.

“The peer commissioners trained as part of this project will now go on to ensure that services supporting people leaving prison in West Yorkshire are robust, effective and help prevent future victims.

“It is important that we do not stop there. We strongly urge that this pilot is adopted nationally to support more prison leavers and give them a voice to help drive positive change.”

Pictured from left to right - Alison Lowe OBE - Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Phoenix - Peer Commissioner, John - Peer Commissioner, Peter - Peer Commissioner, Tracy Brabin - Mayor of West Yorkshire