Charity working to prevent sex offending wins prisoner rehabilitation award

A charity created with the help of Nottingham Trent University researchers has won the Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation 2015.

A charity created with the help of Nottingham Trent University researchers has won the Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation 2015.

The Safer Living Foundation, based at HMP Whatton, works with sex offenders in prison and on release into the community to help reduce the risk of reoffending and prevent people becoming victims of sexual harm.

It is a unique collaboration between the prison, Nottingham Trent University, National Probation Trust (East Midlands), Nottingham Police, Age UK and Circles UK.

The charity works with adult men with an intellectual disability, those who are elderly and those who have little or no social support. These groups often have complex needs but find it hard to access services in the community and are at particular risk of reoffending on release.

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 83% reduction in sexual offending.

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 while 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.

Systematic arrangements for sustained monitoring and support are established in the prison and continue on to approved premises and beyond. The circle works in close collaboration with the police and probation services and contributes to the safe management and supervision of offenders in the community.

Receiving this prestigious award reaffirms that people who are experts in the field of penal reform value what we are doing.

Dr Belinda Winder, Nottingham Trent University

Dr Belinda Winder and Helen Elliott, of Nottingham Trent University's Sexual Offences, Crime and Misconduct Research Unit, are co-founders of the Safer Living Foundation – and the charity was established with seed funding from the University's centre for enterprise and entrepreneurship, The Hive.

Dr Winder said: "Working with sex offenders is a humbling experience: you are all too aware of the lives that have been left broken and in ruins as a consequence of offenders' actions, which makes it that much more crucial that you help to rehabilitate these individuals and prevent future victims. As a co-founder of the Safer Living Foundation, I have been extremely proud to be part of the charity's work and, as a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University, I am also delighted to help the charity ensure that every project it conducts is evaluated.

"The Safer Living Foundation is keen to ensure that we know what works, how it works, and how it could work better. It has a perfect mix of professionals contributing their expertise and knowledge and making a real difference in society. Receiving this prestigious award reaffirms that people who are experts in the field of penal reform value what we are doing."

Lynn Saunders, the Governor of HMP Whatton, said: "The Safer Living Foundation is an innovative charity which works to reduce reoffending and prevent people becoming victims of sexual harm. It is difficult and challenging work, but at the same time immensely rewarding. I am delighted that the important work of the charity and the dedication and commitment of our volunteers and staff has been recognised by this award."

It is difficult and challenging work, but at the same time immensely rewarding.

Lynn Saunders, Governor of HMP Whatton

Chair of the Judges, Lady Corbett, said: "In a strong year of nominations, the judges were unanimous in their decision to award the Safer Living Foundation and Changing Paths first and second prize. Both charities are outstanding examples of what can be achieved by a small and dedicated team to enable people in prison to take responsibility and lead a law abiding life."

Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "In a bleak prison landscape it's good to see people doing time rather than wasting time. Gaining skills and confidence and putting a sentence to good use has got to be a better way to reduce reoffending than long hours spent behind bars."

The award will be presented to the winners by Lady Corbett at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group in the Houses of Parliament tonight (4 March).

The annual award for outstanding rehabilitative work with prisoners by a small charity or community group, working in partnership with prison staff, was set up in the memory of Lord Corbett, the respected former chairman of the Home Affairs Committee in Westminster. For ten years, until his death in February 2012, Robin Corbett also chaired the All Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group, to which the Prison Reform Trust provides the secretariat.

The emphasis of the award, kindly supported by the Worshipful Company of Weavers, is on work that fosters personal responsibility and which calls on people in prison, and ex-offenders, to take responsibility to help themselves and to help others.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Dave Rogers, Head of Communications, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8782, or via email.

    The awards panel comprised: Lady Corbett and members of the Corbett family; Lord Ramsbotham, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group; Eoin McLennan-Murray, former President of the Prison Governors' Association; a former prisoner; and Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust.

    Further information about the award is available on the Prison Reform Trust website

Charity working to prevent sex offending wins prisoner rehabilitation award

Published on 4 March 2015
  • Category: Business; Press office; Research; School of Social Sciences

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