By: Clare Lissaman of BBC News
West Midlands: According to a news story by Clare Lissaman BBC News, West Midlands, a new initiative is set to transform women prisoners into youth workers by leveraging their “lived experiences” to support young people, according to St Giles Trust, a charity organization.
The program is designed for inmates aged 18 to 25 at HMP Drake Hall women’s prison in Stafford and is funded by the City & Guilds Foundation, which offers a level three practice qualification.
Once completed, the women will be able to apply their newfound skills in supported work placements, as stated by the trust. The primary goal is to enhance youth work services in the area and ensure that these services better resonate with the individuals they intend to assist.
Steve Clarke, the head of Midlands Services at St Giles Trust, expressed, “This funding from City & Guilds Foundation will enable women to harness their lived experience of overcoming trauma and disadvantage and support others going through it right now.”
He continued, “By providing this package of training and support to the women, they can move their lives forward and take others with them on a positive path, preventing future crime and strengthening communities.” The training program encompasses areas such as mentoring, supporting young people at risk, and conflict mediation.
The women who complete this program will use their skills to support young women and girls who are at risk of exploitation and violence, with the ultimate goal of prevention and building resilience.
The trust noted that vacancies for such roles often remain unfilled, despite a strong demand, and women with first-hand experience of these issues can face barriers when seeking employment. Their lived experiences make them highly credible and relatable to girls and young women, helping to build trust and increase engagement.
Kirstie Donnelly, the head of City & Guilds, emphasized the importance of helping vulnerable individuals leaving prison to access employment, stating that it is crucial for achieving the objective of reducing reoffending.
“This program at HMP Drake Hall is particularly exciting for us, as it’s one of the first we’ve funded supporting women in the prison estate,” she added.