Young offenders in London will be offered support from specially trained peer mentors in a new London Probation Trust funded service provided by St Giles Trust and charity Catch 22.

The one year project will offer mentoring support to 150 young offenders in Southwark, Croydon, Hackney and Lewisham.  Known as the Peer Mentoring Scheme, it aims to reduce re-offending, improve access to services and tackle social exclusion.  

There are two separate strands to the programme.  100 young men aged 18-25 serving community sentences under probation supervision will be provided with intensive mentoring by trained ex-offenders.  Each relationship will be tailored to meet individual needs and would typically involve support with housing, finance, training and looking for work.

A second strand will use trained volunteer mentors, some drawn from the business world, to offer support for up to six months to 50 young women offenders.  The project will encourage the young women to take responsibility for their own rehabilitation by providing them with a small, personal budget which the mentor will guide them to use towards factors which will help them resettle.

Evan Jones, our Head of Community Services, said: “We have a wealth of expertise in putting ex-offenders at the heart of service delivery.  In our experience, using specially trained, reformed ex-offenders to provide services and support to others is a highly effective way of reaching some of the most difficult to engage young people. We are very much looking forward to working with Catch 22 to bring our mutual strengths together for the benefit of clients, their families and wider community.”

Frances Flaxington, Director of Community Justice at Catch 22, said: “We are very excited to be working in partnership with St Giles Trust.  Both organisations have significant experience of working with volunteers and Peer Mentors.  This mentoring programme offers us a real opportunity to help reduce re-offending in London and support service users to get back on their feet and go on to become active members of their community.”

Kuljit Sandhu, Assistant Chief Officer at London Probation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with Catch 22 and St Giles Trust, who will be providing mentoring services to offenders. The peer mentors chosen for this project will be former offenders, who have proven they have been effectively rehabilitated and are capable of mentoring other offenders. The female volunteers programme will bring a new personalised way of working with women offenders that will recognise each person’s potential and value.”