Probation team wins prison accolade

Probation team wins prison accolade image

A team dedicated to ensuring men leaving custody do not reoffend has won a regional award in recognition of their unstinting efforts to support people to make positive changes to their lives.

The Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company’s (CGM CRC) Integrated Through the Gate (ITTG) team at HMP Risley was nominated by the Reducing Re-Offending Governor Gemma Hazeltine and supported by prison’s governor Nicki Smith for work undertaken to support men who have completed their custodial sentence.

The team of 13 staff were nominated in the Partnership Agency category and have now won through to the national section of the prestigious recognition scheme.

The ITTG team includes CGM CRC probation professionals and colleagues from Shelter who are commissioned by the CRC to provide a range of support to help service users adjust to life in the community and to not reoffend. The team helps service users: access accommodation and employment and training opportunities; learning new skills; address behavioural deficits and tackle drug misuse issues.

Rachel O’Connor, strategic lead for the ITTG team, said: “I’m really proud of the team and am delighted that their efforts have been recognised by HMP Risley.

“It’s a tough job. Supporting men as they prepare for release so they hit the ground running is challenging because things like housing, finances and support in addressing issues requires a package of help and it all has to be in place on day one.

“We know when the partner agencies involved get that support package right men have a much better chance of achieving lasting change.”

The team was launched in April 2019 following Interserve’s ITTG launch and works with prisoners from 12-weeks prior to release and through the prison gate to facilitate a smooth transition to supervision by the probation service. The aim is to help offenders reintegrate into the community supervised by CGM CRC’s probation case managers.

To provide a snapshot of the team’s work, In November, they worked with 84 men who were released that month. The Shelter primary partners worked with 33 men to secure accommodation; completed 23 debt interventions, six bank account applications, supported 10 men disclosing their criminal records to potential employers and attended four employment workshops.

Rachel said: “Our hub office is based right next to the prison so that men being released can come to us, complete their first probation appointment, have a cup of tea and charge their mobile phone.

“All the evidence shows that if we can engage with men on the day of release then the likelihood that they’ll stick with the terms of their licence and successfully complete their court sentence dramatically improves.

“That in turn means that the men will receive all the support offered by partner agencies to help them stop reoffending.”

The Annual Prison Awards final is hosted later this year.