The Throughcare Service aim is to reduce rates of re-offending by BME young people who are, or have been, in HMYOI Polmont.
Reducing reoffending is a Scottish Government priority, and there are particular issues affecting BME young men which reinforce the need for a specific BME project such as the Throughcare project.
The history of the project
The Glasgow Throughcare Service was established in June 2008 to work specifically with young people from ethnic backgrounds.
In 2010, the Throughcare Service expanded from a Glasgow only service to a national project with the identical principles and practices of the Glasgow project.
More recently, YCSA has become a partner in a Public Social Partnership (PSP) led by the Wise group. The PSP has been successful in securing Reducing Reoffending Change Fund support for a mentoring project.
The outcomes for both the National and Glasgow service are comparable which can be summarised as follows:
- family support and mediation are important in avoiding homelessness or providing support into alternative accommodation such as supported or permanent tenancy.
Improving skills, confidence and knowledge
- to reduce barriers to gain employment, training or education in custody and post liberation
- to make and sustain positive changes in their lives.
- to increase skills, confidence and knowledge of young people
- to provide information to families in order to make more informed decisions and access to alternative services
Breakdown of the Service
The group work programme delivers in 3 main areas covering personal development, relationships and goal setting. The weekly programmes are delivered within the Link Centre in Polmont. Each programme runs for 6 sessions looking at specific areas within each session for example personal development which covers areas such as self awareness, anger management and stereotyping through discussions and activities. In each session about 45 minutes is allocated to group discussions and the remainder of the time to allow for social interaction such as games or other activities. This opportunity allows the worker to engage with the clients in a group environment to monitor attitudes, behaviours and self esteem when engaging with each other. The group programme also encourages interaction with clients from differing backgrounds and ethnicities. The group session also allows the worker to introduce and invite other agencies and organisations based in Polmont to offer the young people an opportunity to other support available to them whilst in custody.
One to Ones
This intervention is vital for the worker and the young person so to build a positive relationship within Polmont and post release. The worker completes the registration and assessment forms to identify the issues and help the young person needs. The sessions are once a week that last for about 40-50 minutes in the halls within each cell block. There are many opportunities within Polmont for the young person to take up so with the help of the assessment the worker can direct the young person to various services or agencies within the prison like work parties, education, sports and other facilities available from other services. The sessions are reviewed every 5 weeks to ensure the young person is receiving the appropriate support. Prior to the Throughcare Service many young people from the BME communities did not take up any help or support from the agencies/organisation within Polmont however since the service began there has been a significant change with uptake of the young people engaging in the various services with the help of the Throughcare development worker
“I’ve had deep conversations with the development worker. It’s calmed me down and made me think about my release. I’ve grown up. I see things from a different point of view and I’ve started doing some courses for when I get out.”
Young offender in Polmont YOI
Once a new client is identified, the development worker makes contact with the family to determine whether any home support is required. This initial contact allows the development worker to explain the situation to the family and help in tackling the stigma attached to having a child or sibling in prison. The development worker works with family members to access appropriate services and supports the family to prepare for the return of the client. This has involved facilitating family visits to HMYOI Polmont for parents or siblings. Regular family visits are made which help to support the families in any issues relating specifically to their son.
Expectations of family members can, at times, be quite high and unrealistic in terms of the impact of interventions and expected change for the client.
Working with specific clientele from the BME communities there are a number of other issues around culture, religion and sometime language issues that have to be taken into consideration when dealing with families.
All families are provided with a family support pack detailing all the support available to them like How to visit? How to send money or clothes or other items into prison? Other support is available to them by partner agencies.
“The development worker came to visit us, kept us informed and always did what he said he would do. That was really important for my mum and dad. For my brother, the development worker was like a role model. He’s really changed and now gets on with other family members.”
Sister of ex-offender.
Post Liberation Support
The period immediately after post liberation is a crucial time in relation to re-integration and support. Support within HMYOI Polmont provides a foundation for the core of the work which is to support this re-integration. As liberation approaches, the project increases the frequency and intensity of support offered to the client therefore on release there is the appropriate support and services available. We have a number of services within the organisations to provide support like Literacy and Numeracy, Employment, Addiction and Counselling however we have already established partnership with external services like Families Outside, Passport to Industry and others.
We have introduced a pre-liberation check list to ensure at the point of liberation things are in place for example registration with a GP or dentist, membership at a local gym and many other general necessities.
Upon liberation the service provides a gate pick up where the worker can accompany the client home. Then follow up appointments are arranged to provide the appropriate support such as returning to college or moving into employment or training with the help of the other services providers internally or externally. The service has and will continue to work with statuary services like Social work and the Police Scotland to ensure we provide an effective intervention to help reduce the risk of reoffending.
The project does not close down client cases because the support is open to the young people as long as they may need our support however chasing clients can be a challenge after they return back home.
The project is unique, in that there is no other service provider or agency targeting the specific needs of the BME offenders or ex offenders. It has become apparent from feedback from service users, families and partners that the service addresses key concerns for clients and supports them in a capacity where other agencies struggle.
We hope to continue to develop and improve the service to the highest standard to ensure we provide the most effective and efficient specialised service in youth justice.