The development manager at Belong London recounts her week
Monday: I devote some time to preparing a training course that starts on Saturday for mentors who'll work with men released from HMP Brixton. It's quite a tricky course because the mentors vary greatly in age and experience and we have only two training days to cover a lot of ground.
Tuesday: The day starts with a presentation to 30 Lewisham youth offending service staff about our mentoring project. Youth offending teams handle lots of cases and don't have much time to spend providing one-to-one support, so we encourage them to refer young people to us. Then I meet a volunteer fundraiser to plan his next few months of work. Back in the office, I continue preparing the new training course.
Wednesday: I attend HMP Brixton for a resettlement partnership meeting. The head of resettlement raises the issue of the difficulties that prisoners experience if they don't have bank accounts on release. Small things like this can make a big difference to whether people reoffend. At lunch, I provide emergency guidance to a mentor. The young man he is working with has just committed an offence in front of him and he's not sure what do. I advise him about the procedures and reassure him that he's not at fault. Then its back to HMP Brixton to meet the governor: he is full of enthusiasm about our mentoring work.
Friday: A mentor and I visit a mentee who hasn't been his usual self recently. The young man doesn't get much support from his parents and he's feeling really down now he has finished school. We talk about things he can do over the summer to boost his confidence. When we leave, he seems in better spirits.
Saturday: I'm nervous about how the training will go. By lunchtime, I can tell that the mentors are enjoying the day, so I start to relax. Before I know it, we've covered all the material and I'm surrounded by a room full of mentors happily telling me that they'll see me for the last training day next Saturday. It's a satisfying end to the week, but I can't deny being tired.
Belong London works with offenders and victims of crime in the capital.
Esther Wanjie is the development manager at Belong London