Offender mentoring project secures additional funding

The success of a mentoring project that works to address the many barriers faced by disadvantaged offenders has led to it being extended until 31 March 2016.

Joint financing of £47,000 has been offered by The Humberside, Lincolnshire & North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company Ltd and Lincolnshire County Council’s Safer Communities Services.

The Lincolnshire Offender Mentoring project has been delivered by the national charity, Sova, since September 2013. It was recently acknowledged as an example of best practice during the Probation Institute Centre of Excellence conference in Lincoln in January 2015.

Community volunteers are recruited, trained and supported to work one-to-one with offenders under probation supervision. The team designs and agrees a bespoke support package for each individual offender. This enables and empowers that person to overcome issues to successfully complete their community sentence and this makes our local communities safer places in which to live. Volunteers gain exceptional skills through their training and the interaction with mentees, which often act as a launch pad to a career in criminal justice, social care or other public services.

Since April 2014, 30 offenders have received over 900 hours of support from a dedicated team of volunteers.

Sova Area Manager Samantha Dumoulin says: “In a typical year, Sova volunteers will dedicate 1,000 hours of their time to help offenders in Lincolnshire. They provide practical help in difficult times along with advice, guidance, friendship and understanding that benefits not just the individuals they work with, but the community as a whole.”

Claire Seabourne, Safer Communities Service, adds: “In providing funding to continue this service we recognise that mentoring enriches the support provided to service users and can be effective in creating behaviour change and desistance.”

The project remains committed to protecting the public in order to prevent victims being created. Stopping any victimisation of the public and to areas of the community remains at the heart of what we do. Mentoring offenders through gainfully occupying their time and changing their lives helps us achieve that goal.

City of York Council will be joining forces with local residents, community groups and businesses over the last weekend of March to carry out an annual city-wide spring clean of York.

During March, the council will focus on supporting hard-working residents committed to keeping their neighbourhood looking – and staying – tidy. So far, community groups such as the Friends of Leeman Park have committed to spruce up a play ground, Lindsey Avenue Residents’ Association will be encouraging people to recycle even more and the Dunnington in Bloom team will be concentrating their efforts on tidying a layby on the A1079.

Smarter York officers will be working with local businesses to brush up their immediate area as it’s good for business and for the surrounding community. Pupils at Woodthorpe Primary School are among the York schools being encouraged to spend an hour of the last afternoon of the spring term having a Spring Clean. Students are also being approached to join in, as well as staff at City of York Council who are being encouraged to go out and help in their own neighbourhoods as part of the ongoing support the council gives them to volunteer to boost the quality of life in York.

The council is also working with the Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company for offenders sentenced to Community Payback to undertake spring cleaning tasks such as painting over graffiti, fixing broken fencing, picking litter and clearing overgrown areas. Community Payback is physically-demanding work which might otherwise not be done, and is performed by offenders who are supervised by Community Rehabilitation Companies as part of their community sentence.

Anyone who wants to take part can contact any of the groups named above, or they can email [email protected] or call 01904 551551. An officer will get in touch to find out how much and what kind of help is available, where and for how long. They’ll also give health and safety advice as well as letting people know where they can collect bin bags from and where the full, tied ones should be left. Individuals wanting to do their bit independently are advised to wear gloves when collecting plastics, tin foil, paper and cardboard, cans and tins but should contact Smarter York if they find needles, syringes, asbestos, dog fouling or other potentially unsafe substances. Care should always be taken to avoid litter picking close to rivers and on roads and private property.

Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “While we’re focusing on the last weekend of March this year, don’t be limited by that: anyone’s welcome to leap into Big Spring Clean action any time! Research shows that spring cleaning areas and setting a standard really helps communities take even more pride in their neighbourhoods. Well-maintained areas tend to have less anti-social behaviour and children grow up learning to look after where they live. The annual Spring Clean is a great way for the council to highlight the volunteering opportunities available. Thank you to everyone who’s planning to join in – I’ll be joining you with my litter picker, gloves and bag!”

Ed Gray, Community Payback Manager, Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company, said: “The annual Spring Clean is now in its third year and we are delighted to once again join forces with the Council on this initiative to provide the manpower required. The Spring Clean is a terrific initiative which sees offenders giving visible and demanding payback to local communities where they have caused most harm through their offending.”

Smarter York aims to help volunteers from our local communities and businesses to maintain a clean, green and safe environment for York. The initiative encourages and works with residents to create attractive neighbourhoods with a real sense of community and to tackle the things that can spoil our neighbourhoods for example littering or graffiti.