A truly fantastic summer in the capital is drawing to a close. We have welcomed the best sportsmen and women to our city and played host to visitors from across the globe. A peaceful, thrilling and brilliantly organised London 2012 Olympic games has been enjoyed by all, giving a nose thumb to the naysayers and a much-needed morale boost for the UK.
Much credit should go to the organisers and Met Police upon news today that crime fell by 6% during the games, some attributing it to the ‘feel good factor’ the Olympics brought about.
I’m interested in this as I feel it is something that is core to our work with clients. Alongside all the practical support such as housing, help with getting benefits sorted and looking for training and jobs, we try to bring that same feel-good factor to our clients’ lives. This emotional connection – made more credible if it is from someone who has been in prison themselves – gives our clients hope and a horizon. In short, it moves them away from a place where negative cycles and patterns of thinking dominate.
Much of the work around desistance theory is starting to show that relationships and the way these affect a persons’ emotional and mental state are of key importance in reducing re-offending. It’s a fairly easy concept to understand – someone feeling trapped, held back or angry is more likely to do bad things. However, if you can really feel your life is going somewhere, you have more to lose.
This column’s quote is from Maya Angelou: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Many of our clients have little control over their circumstances. They face barriers accessing housing and employment and we can help directly change this. However, they are subject to home detention curfews, a criminal record and compliance with authorities. Here our work is more around changing their thinking and perceptions.
Against the 2011 riots, the Olympics may have helped bring about this attitude change to Londoners against tough odds of a rainy summer and continuing economic hardship. Our caseworkers aim to bring a similar magic to our clients’ lives – hope of a better future and a different way of looking at the things that can’t be changed.