In total, 85 per cent of the young offenders (In Medway) failed at least one of their supervision requirements. A quarter were returned to custody before the end of their sentence. Another quarter were sentenced to a new custodial sentence before the old one was finished.
I feel that all my experiences of working with young people to date have prepared me for applying for this post. My role is to support young people.
My current post is as a functional skills tutor with Nacro, the crime reduction charity. Nacro works on many levels to give ex-offenders, disadvantaged people and deprived communities the help they need to build a better future. I totally and fully believe in the Nacro ethos;
“Nacro is committed to promoting equality and diversity in all its activities. We are proud of the action we take to eliminate discrimination and prejudice and ensure inclusion and engagement for all the people who work for us and with us. We will continue to strive towards a culture that is diverse and which recognises and develops the potential of all staff and service users. This means promoting equality and diversity for black and minority ethnic people, men and women, people of all ages, people with disabilities, people of every sexual orientation, refugees and asylum seekers, people of all religious faiths and beliefs, people with diverse communication needs and ex offenders.” (http://www.nacro.org.uk/about/index.htm)
Most obvious challenges would be engaging with the young people and keeping them engaged. Firstly, in conversation to ascertain what they would require from their training plan; to help them articulate their needs or interpret their requirements to adapt to the requirements of the Youth Offending Service. I have experience in this from my previous and current jobs in that I interviewed potential students that wished to attend our college to ascertain their suitability; this involves filling in application forms and running confidential risk assessments; determining their previous experiences, including garnering details of their prison experiences or police records. To do this I have to be both professional and approachable and have the ability to foster trust in the young person. Together we can set objectives and targets that are both achievable and specific.
I also, in my current job, have to liaise with managers and prepare reports and support logs, continuing progress reviews as well as liaise with multi agencies such as Connexions, YOT, education establishments and parents, guardians or carers. All this is done with the aim of securing the young person into ties with the community, to endeavour to get the young person to commit to an educational or vocational path that will reduce their risk of reoffending.
I also have to prepare and deliver programmes of education to young people; at the moment in literacy and numeracy but also in personal and social development (e.g. teamwork skills, confidence building, stress management etc) so have a full understanding of these programmes, how important they are and how they have to fit into the life of the young person, particularly when they are on the outside.
A great, and new, challenge to me would be the resettlement aspect of the job. I would hopefully base my skills towards socially integrating the young person back into society. Supporting them through every aspect of the process of resettlement. Knowing their needs and understanding what they require. I would constantly be advocating and accessing the systems they need to achieve this (e.g. ensuring they claim housing benefit entitlements etc). I think resettlement work must start before they are even sentenced. Prior forward planning seems a necessity for the job. Foe example, can they keep their flat if they are sentenced? Can they keep their college place? Family ties?
In the job I’m in at the moment I'm fully aware literacy and numeracy levels are low for young offenders. In this new role i can extend my service to ask, and answer, questions such as what can i do that will enable this young person to have the best chance of having an offending free life the moment they get out of custody? If I were that young person in prison what do I want people on the outside to do for me. I’d want someone to be rooting for me and I’d want that person to be my YOS Project Officer.
As regards the day to day practicalities of the job I’m used to taking on a considerable amount of driving and readily accept that it would be an integral part of the job responsibilities.