As you many of you will know I have been working as an artist since 1984. However, since March 2018, I have been working as a Job Coach, on a part time basis with the charity Junction 42 in Newcastle. Junction 42 delivers faith and creative programmes in male and female prisons and young offender institutes across the north of England and in Scotland. It also leads community and outward bounds groups and runs employability mentoring schemes.
Our 1-2-1 mentoring and job clubs have worked with around 200 ex-offenders last year. In 2018 we saw around 33% move into paid work. This percentage is way above the Government programmes which achieve less than 10%.
As a Job Coach I have been working with ex-offenders providing 1-2-1 mentoring to enable them find employment. This includes cv writing, disclosure letters, helping access relevant employability training, voluntary work and ultimately paid work.
Additionally, since I started in March 2018, I have picked up prisoners from the gate on their release day. This has involved taking them to their Probation Officer, the Housing Advice Centre. Also we provide them with an inexpensive mobile phone (some lunch) and drive them to their housing which is usually a hostel.
Art in Prisons
I’ve also delivered Art in Prisons. These include portrait courses in HMP Low Newton in Durham for women and HMPYOI Deerbolt in Barnard Castle for young men. These young guys are in desperate need of good, godly father figures. I’m currently teaching Art in Prisons in HMP Northumberland through to 2020.
Junction 42 is funded partly by grants. These include The Big Lottery’s ‘Awards for All’, Sainsbury’s, Community Foundation, Northumbria Police and partly by contracts for services (Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, Novus, the Department for Work and Pensions) and by private donations.
All team members at Junction 42 are required to fundraise 50% of our own salary through individual donations. My target for 2019 is £7200 or £600 per month. In April 2018 I raised £500 through a zip-wire challenge from the Tyne Bridge. I am also receiving £190 of monthly donations. My outstanding fundraising goal is £410 per month.
If you would consider supporting me in this work, the idea would be to set up a standing order to Junction 42 with my name as a reference. Your donation would be attributed to my salary fundraising. Typically, Junction 42 donors give anywhere between £15 – £100 a month and the average donation is £35.
If you would like to find out more then please email me: email@example.com
Story of Hope
Here is one of the many Stories of Hope that I’ve played a part in, helping to transform the lives of ex-offenders:
Brian (not his real name) had never worked a day in his life. I first met him a few weeks before his thirtieth birthday. He had no relationship with his father and hadn’t seen his mother for four years. His stepfather had physically abused him and he had been homeless. Most of his adult life had been spent in and out of prison for drug related crimes, stealing and selling to survive.
He was desperate to work and put his life of crime behind him. He expressed an interest in catering even though he had no qualifications and no work experience. His CV was “a pack of lies” as he described it, so we began to pull together a skill-based CV that drew on his ability to buy, sell and network with his former “clients”.
I found Brian to be a very likable man with great people skills. Although he was suffering from depression and anxiety, he soon began to come out of his shell, particularly when we did his disclosure letter which described his convictions and his desire to change.
I put him forward for one of the catering training courses at Crisis Café. He soon began to enjoy the whole process of getting up in the morning to do a days work. He said that he really felt good about himself after working hard.
Crisis described Brian as the best trainee they’ve ever had. Within a week of completing their training programme, Brian started working as a kitchen porter and trainee chef at a top restaurant in Newcastle. It’s an amazing outcome in just six months for a thirty year old man who has never worked since leaving school and led a life of criminality.