Fair Shares are working in prisons in the South West – Gloucestershire, Avon, Wiltshire, Dorset and Devon to support Times2 Maths Mentoring and Time Banking opportunities for offenders. We are also expanding to work with offenders in the community.
Fair Shares began working in HMP Gloucester back in 2004 with offenders refurbishing bicycles that were sent to Gambia for use by health care workers; this project continued until the prison closure in 2013.
Another popular and positive activity in HMP Gloucester was the filming of DVDs of offenders reading stories that were then sent to their children; this work continues in HMP Eastwood Park, giving women the chance to read their children a bedtime story.
Prior to the closure of HMP Gloucester, discussions began about delivering a maths mentoring project. This came fully to fruition with five years funding beginning in the autumn of 2015 and so Times 2 Maths Mentoring began. Times2 maths is currently running in HMP Leyhill and HMP Erlestoke. Leyhill has developed the scheme exponentially and has nearly 20 mentors whilst Erlestoke is setting up a Maths Football pilot to encourage men with Maths at entry level 3 to get involved in improving their numeracy in addition to the one to one mentoring scheme.
The prison projects utilise Maths mentoring and other forms of volunteering undertaken by offenders to develop time banking models in each prison. These time banks enable both people within the prison and communities on the outside to benefit from the prisoners’ volunteering.
A further development in our work with offenders has been to pilot a project working with people who have a criminal justice history in the community, including those leaving prison. Offenders returning to the community or coming ‘Through The Gate’ as it’s known, are offered opportunities to get involved in projects that aim to build self-esteem, confidence and positive social networks.