With so much negative news around about the justice system and crime it was good to be able to visit a local scheme which has been a huge success and meet some of the beneficiaries.
I was invited to see the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company over in Hastings who effectively run the probation service for more than 9,000 low and medium risk offenders. I met staff and clients on one of their One Stop Shop days where a wide variety of agencies and voluntary organisations give comprehensive advice and support to get back on the straight and narrow, into voluntary or paid work and, crucially, out of jail sustainably.
––– Also in the news, GCSE students across the area have been celebrating after receiving their results; an Angmering grandfather has taken to caring for hedgehogs to help him overcome a spinal injury; and a memorial to honour the victims of the Shoreham Airshow crash is almost ready for installation on the banks of the River Adur –––
Rates of re-offending have remained stubbornly high at around 40 to 50 per cent nationally over the last 15 years, with short custodial sentences deemed particularly counter-productive, but results in our area have broken the trend which is why I wanted to see them.
Many offenders in the probation service have a series of interconnected problems including mental illness, addiction, poor qualifications or chaotic family backgrounds. Just dealing with one without addressing the rest often results in a vicious cycle of failure so this scheme attempts to look at more holistic solutions. It operates a series of community payback schemes and is looking for charities and other worthy causes who need help, while also working with businesses prepared to give work opportunities to ex-offenders.
Shoe repairer Timpson, for example, has made a virtue out of it with hugely impressive results.
I visited several brilliant small local charities recently, including those working with vulnerable young people and victims of domestic violence including The Daisy Chain Project, newly arrived in Worthing, and Esteem at the Old School House in Shoreham.
They are both doing brilliant work, as usual helped by a small team of dedicated volunteers and scarce budgets.
They and many more like them always need more help and it struck me that it would be a good way forward to set up a ‘speed dating’ event for potential volunteers to come along and find out more about them and see whether they can help out as trustees, workers, fundraisers or just donors.
If you would like to be part of such an event let me know and I will arrange an event if there is sufficient demand.
Great to see lots of young skaters and scooters turnout for the Skate Jam event at the Lancing Beach Green skate park organised by Lancing youth charity Electric Storm Youth, of which I am proud to be a patron. There was plenty of talent on display and good to see Beach Green buzzing with young families on a summer’s afternoon. Despite the invitations I declined to don a hard hat and get on a board myself though!
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