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An initiative which helps prisoners and ex-offenders to turn their lives around has received extra funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN).
Community Chaplaincy Norfolk (CCN) was launched in the county in February 2017 to help those keen to make a fresh start by changing their attitudes and behaviour which previously led to criminality.
Since this date more than 30 volunteer mentors have been trained to work with around 70 offenders in prisons including Norwich and Wayland to offer support and guidance for life beyond the prison gates.
Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, who recently meet with a group of new mentors and clients, said: “The work of the dedicated team of Community Chaplains in Norfolk should not be underestimated. I am extremely proud of the work they do.
“They do an extremely valuable, yet rewarding job, working with some of the most vulnerable people in our communities to help give them a second chance in life.
“The scheme has already proven a great success over the last two years with some 70 clients benefiting from support and assistance. I am delighted to have agreed further funding to allow the initiative to grow from strength to strength.”
The initiative – the first of its kind in Norfolk – initially received more than £20,000 from the OPCCN to allow it to run for two years.
A further £31,800 has now been awarded to expand the scheme further for another year.
Rev Susan Carne, who heads CCN, said: “I am extremely grateful to all the people who have made this project possible. Our dedicated mentors work hard to build good, supportive relationships with our clients.
“Chaplains in the prison service along with officers responsible for reducing re-offending and rehabilitation have helped us meet, and begin to work with, offenders while in prison.
“Being able to meet our clients at the gate has made a big difference to that stress-filled first day. Working in partnership with so many other agencies and support organisations within our community is building more opportunities for our clients.
“We are so grateful for the confidence shown in our work by Lorne Green and for the continuing support from the OPCCN in the coming year.”
Community Chaplaincies work alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families. They are multi-faith and work with offenders of all faiths and none.
The main aim of the scheme is to offer offenders the support and motivation they need to stop them reoffending once released from prison and to lead a more fulfilling lifestyle within their local communities.
It has been well-received by clients with comments including:
“Community Chaplaincy is a safe and supportive scheme in which to grow”
“The mentors are reliable and offer honest feedback to encourage self-sufficiency”
“I have built bridges with my family and am now in regular contact with my sister”
CASE STUDY ‘How CCN helped me’:
“From the age of three to 18 years I was in the care system. After that I spent roughly 15 years homeless and after a few short sentences eventually served 10 years in prison.
Drugs and alcohol were a massive part of my life. As bad as the sentence was, it saved my life and I took every advantage to gain my education.
One of the chaplaincy team referred me to the CCN and Susan came to visit me in prison.
On the day of my release I arrived at my accommodation and to my surprise Susan had left me a food parcel and clothes. This really helped as my first day out was such a whirlwind and quite overwhelming.
But the help and support that CCN and the mentors provided me was so beneficial. I eventually was encouraged to do the mentor training and I now go and talk with the new mentors about my life experiences.
The help, support and encouragement I received has boosted my confidence and I am now going on to further training.”
For more information on CCN visit here