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  • Help and support

Offending and rehabilitation

Learning from supporting ex-offenders
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It can feel like a life sentence, even if it wasn’t one. People leaving prison face years of obstacles and prejudice when re-integrating into society. That’s why we are interested in finding ways to support and learn from projects working with people at risk of offending, ex-offenders, their families and their communities.

To help reduce the risk of re-offending, we’ve learnt it’s important to understand and address the challenges people face such as:

  • Poor social skills - limited social skills and engaging with the community, problem-solving skills and poor emotion management
  • Anti-social lifestyle choices - criminal attitudes and friends and a lack of positive recreation or leisure activities
  • Poor resilience - low motivation, self-efficacy, lack of hope and difficulties in recognising progress
  • Complex issues - substance abuse, dysfunctional family relationships, homelessness, unemployment, and reduced job opportunities
  • Gaps in services - some services cannot act within critical timescales
  • Negative attitudes - people and communities discouraging engagement with an individual because they are an ex-offender.

What works

Providing the right support can help people reintegrate into their local community as well as prevent re-offending. Projects looking to support offenders and ex-offenders should think about:

  • Building trust-based relationships
  • Facilitating continuity in relationships - this can include meeting offenders while they are still in prison
  • Meeting prisoners at the prison gate
  • Approaches which motivate and support ex-offenders to want to change, including encourage a belief in their own capacity to change
  • Flexibility - there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and project models should allow for support to be increased during times of crisis.
  • Partnership working and collaboration between services to provide joined-up services. This is important in providing all-round support
  • Using peer advisors gives endorsement and helps build trust.

What you’ve said

In December 2014, we asked for your thoughts on how to support people who have a history of offending including:

  • Examples of effective work
  • Delivery models which respond best to local differences
  • Strengths of ex-offenders.

Read more about the responses we got to these questions