West Yorkshire Combined Authority is supporting people who have experience of prison or probation to move on with their lives, through a new upskilling scheme.
The scheme, which has been labelled as ‘pioneering’ by the combined authority, saw a pilot project taking place, during which six ex-offenders worked alongside charity User Voice to achieve level one NCFE qualifications. The charity also helped them to gain fixed-term employment as Peer Commissioners, as well as being awarded certificates by the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, at a Leeds event last week.
As the West Yorkshire Mayor develops her plans to re-commission Restorative Justice, an important victims’ service, User Voice and the commissioners will play key roles. This will be done using the experience of the commissioners to support victims’ complex needs, whilst helping to reform offenders.
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, 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.”
Also commenting on the project, User Voice’s CEO, Simon Boddis, 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.”
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