Safer Living Foundation, is a unique collaboration between HMP Whatton, National Probation Trust (East Midlands), Nottingham Police, Nottingham Trent University, Age UK and Circles UK working with adult male sex offenders. They have little or no social support, often have complex needs but find it hard to access services in the community and are at particular risk of reoffending on release.
Each ‘circle of support’ comprises four to six volunteers drawn from the local community under professional supervision. The circle provides guidance and support to a single offender, whilst holding them accountable for their behaviour. Uniquely at HMP Whatton, the circle begins six months before a prisoner is released, thus helping to bridge the gap between custody and release.
And to prove this works let me tell you that Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is one of the charity’s initiatives and is a proven model for working with sex offenders which has delivered an impressive 85% reduction in sexual offending.
“The Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation gave us an incredible boost not least because a panel of experts in the field recognised the contribution we were trying to make to prisoner rehabilitation and consequently to society. The tremendous publicity that followed the award has helped to get our message across, to raise awareness of our projects and also to help with fundraising. It is not easy to get national coverage for a charity that works to reduce reoffending in sex offenders but this is what happened with a huge write-up in The Observer. One of the ways in which we are using the award money is in improving the conservatory in Whatton prison. Previously cold and uncomfortable through most of the year, the award is helping us make this key group area a relaxing and comfortable place in which prisoners and staff can focus on the matter in hand (be it the Decency group meeting, the Whatton and Nottingham Trent University Service User Research and Evaluation meeting, or prisoner rehabilitation courses).”
– Dr Belinda Winder MSc PhD CPsychol MEd CSci AFBPsS (pictured left above with her team)
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