Project changes lives of offenders

SCORES of offenders have today had their lives turned around thanks to a charity project to help them get work placements.

SCORES of offenders have today had their lives turned around thanks to a charity project to help them get work placements.

Around 150 offenders from the Ipswich area have now been given work placements thanks to an eight-week programme called Positive Outcome which is run by national crime reduction charity, Nacro.

The programme puts offenders through their paces by helping them find a voluntary work placement and developing their skills to find paid employment opportunities.

More than 50 companies throughout the town and the surrounding area supported the project, which is funded by the Learning and Skills Council.

Emma Pawsey, project manager at Nacro, said: “By the eighth week, everybody who completes the course is hardly recognisable as the person they were at week one.

“Finding and keeping a job is a significant factor in reducing the likelihood that someone will reoffend.

Most Read

“Some of the participants must face the reality that their conviction means they will start lower down the ladder. It takes determination and honesty with employers from the start, with participants disclosing the nature of their conviction and explaining why they should be given a chance to show what they can do.”

The offenders, who are assessed by Suffolk Probation Area to see if they are suitable for the programme before a referral is made, can be aged between 16 and 65 but are mostly men in their 20s and 30s.

The majority are prolific offenders and have to have a high degree of perseverance, as they not only work for several weeks unpaid but also need to persuade employers to take them on.

After completing this latest programme 87 received a full-time job with the company they did their placement with and 42 gained full-time employment as a direct consequence of learning key skills to look for work.

n. If you are a business and want to participate in the programme, the next course will start early next year. For more information on how to get involved, contact Emma Pawsey on 01473 729230.

Are you an offender who has changed their life around? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

“At first I didn't feel like I needed any help finding a job as I had never had a problem in the past and wouldn't accept that it would be difficult once I had my conviction. I soon realised that with my type of conviction that it would be almost impossible finding a job without help.

“As the weeks went on I learned a lot of new skills and techniques. I even changed my appearance, as it was pointed out that it may be something that employers might look at as negative, and this alone lifted my morale.

“I was fortunate enough to have been offered a full time job through the project and now work full time with my problems far behind me.

“It is a huge help but you have to put in the time as it only works for those who show they are trying.”