Today is a red letter day for the Breaking Out project, we are officially live!
This week saw Shona Johnston join the Scotland team. Shona’s role is development officer for the Breaking Out project. Shona has previous experience of working with offenders within Edinburgh Prison. She worked for Phoenix Futures as an enhanced addictions case worker. Having someone with experience of working within a prison setting will be a great bonus for the project. So welcome aboard the good ship Mentor Shona.
Shona and I attended an event last week hosted by the Roberson Trust (one of our funders). The RT event brought together the five main RT funded prison projects. These projects are collectively known as Breaking The Cycle.
The event was attended by representatives of the BTC projects as well as a wide range of community and prison based agencies, SPS staff and managers and representatives from social work and the Scottish government. The event proved extremely useful, giving me a chance to present a synopsis of the project to the audience. I was approached by sevaral people who said they would happily support us at this, the key development stage.
Shona and I have been amazed at the speedy response we have had to our requests for meetings with some key stakeholders. I suppose on reflection that we are now seen as part of the Breaking The Cycle community which lends us credibility.
It was announced today that the Dynamic Youth Awards (a simpler version of the Youth Achievement Awards) will be accredited. This is great news for the project as these awards are self assessed which means your hosting body does not need to charge a moderating fee. Barnardo’s have agreed to sponsor us as an operating agency under their umberella. This means we will get all the training we need to run the awards free of charge and they will support us to develop our work to their own high standard.
The DYA were originally aimed at 10-14 year olds, but after much campaigning by many agencies, the upper age limit has been removed. This is great news for young people who have literacy and communication issues (60% of young men within Polmont have some form of communication issues from dyslexia to autism and all points between).
Using these awards also means we can get accreditation for much shorter periods of engagement, so getting a form of recognised accreditation will not rely on completion of the whole programme. 30 hours of DYA also counts as 2 of the 4 challenges for a Bronze level YAA, giving us a nice incentive for progression onto a higher level award.
The fact that we can self assess the awards will also cut down the time between completion and accreditation. A key factor with the awards is the fact that once a young person has finished their award work, there is a formal process of assessment between you and the umbrella organisation. Then the awards are presented at moderation events which are held 4-6 times per year. So a young person could be waiting several months before they actually get a certificate. DYA will cut down this time considerably meaning we can assess award work and present at the next moderation event with no “middle man” holding up the process. A little confusing I know, but chat to me if you want more details.
After next weeks holiday, Shona and I will be trained to run the awards and we can register our project. A huge step forward. We also begin to meet with the key stakeholders, making those vital connections with the prison community. Shona will receive her prison training next Friday meaning we are both free to access the prison as required.
I’m currently looking for alcohol based activities that can be run with young people with communication issues. I also need examples of activities that can be used for personal development and self esteem building. If you have any ideas or experience, get in touch.