Glenn St John-Colgan joins Wise Group Board.
After serving multiple short-term prison sentences over the last 5 years and battling addiction during his most recent sentence, Barry* is looking toward a brighter future with help and support from his Wise Group mentor.
Since leaving care 5 years ago, Barry has been in and out of prison serving multiple short-term sentences. Before his latest conviction, Barry had been staying in temporary homeless accommodation and was about to be offered a permanent property. However, on receiving a 3-month custodial sentence, he lost the property, making him one of the 26% of short term prisoners who have no accommodation to go to on release.
Barry had never used drugs before, but whilst serving the sentence, he began using drugs as a means to escape from the reality of having nowhere and nobody to turn to – accelerated by the ease of access to drugs and encouraged by other users in prison.
During the sentence, his mental health suffered, brought on by stress and anxiety. He was worried about being homeless on release, having to engage with the Community Addiction Team, rebuild relationships, and sort out his benefits through Universal Credit.
That’s when he engaged with his Wise Group mentor. His mentor started working with him 3 months prior to release, advocating on his behalf, supporting him in applications to services, and preparing him for release. This gave him the confidence and strength to deal with his challenges.
When released, he had engaged routinely with his mentor, was linked in with the services he needed, and was in temporary accommodation, shortly making the transition to permanent housing.
Barry’s Wise Group mentor, said: “His short time in prison meant he had minimal access to services which would help rehabilitate him. Putting anyone in prison for such a short period of time disproportionately impacts their home and family life.”
We need to try something different in cases like these and that’s why we welcome the Presumption Against Short Sentences, enabling people to continue accessing support services, working, and contributing to society – while still repaying their debt.
Regardless whether it’s a custodial or community sentence, it’s the mentoring, support, guidance and advocacy that makes a significant different to reoffending. Customers tell us that their mentor is the most important factor in their rehabilitation. And it’s partly this relationship that reduces reconviction rate from 35% to under 10% – making mentoring a cost-effective solution to deliver smart justice.
Find out more by reading our consultation to response to the Scottish Government’s Presumption Against Short Term Sentences.
*not his real name