Scheme: The Amber Link Resettlement Project for prisoners under 30
Funding: Receives £44,550 from the Home Office, £18,150 from charitable trusts as well as smaller donations from prisons, including two of around £3,000
Objectives: To rehabilitate young prisoners through education and training
The Amber Link Resettlement Project is a partnership scheme that was set up by the charity Amber and the Prison Service in February. It attempts to provide prisoners under 30 with a link from prison to education, training and employment. Funding will support residents for four weeks at the two Amber residential centres in Wiltshire and Devon.
"For the past six years, my life has been oblivion, but now I have a future ahead of me," said Danielle Devonshire, the first beneficiary of the scheme, who left Eastwood Park women's prison for the Amber centre in Wiltshire in February. "This is down to the confidence and motivation I have gained from working with the Amber team."
The project aims to rehabilitate 10 people this year. "We are looking for young people who are mostly undergoing their first period in custody and are serving sentences of less than 12 months," said John Puddy, development director at Amber. "Drugs are invariably an issue for the candidates and they will undergo a detox programme while in prison so they are clean by the time they reach us."
Suitable candidates will receive a visit from an Amber worker at an early point in their sentence. They will then be supervised by prison staff who will monitor their development.
The aim is to provide a seamless move from custody to an Amber centre where the prisoner can find a route to fulfilling employment. On release, a prisoner will join a team of up to eight young people and a team leader will work on improving self-esteem, life skills and motivation. This is done through Amber's programme of counselling and support. There is also a wide variety of activities and training available to residents.
The Devon centre has been set up for home detention curfew, which means that those who do well may be released early from prison to spend the last part of their sentence at an Amber centre. Should they misbehave, they may be returned to custody.
Puddy believes the project will prevent re-offending by providing physical, mental, emotional and social stability. He says: "Hopefully it will lead to a more permanent and effective long-term relationship between the prison service and Amber, leading to reduced re-offending and a more productive lifestyle for many people."
Winchester prison, which falls outside the South-West pilot region, is likely to join the scheme soon.