Fair Shares has always aimed to be an inclusive organisation and we are proud that we work with all sections of the community, including those involved with the Criminal Justice System. Whilst the work we do with offenders and those affected by crime covers a variety of schemes, perhaps the most notable is the Times2 Maths mentoring project which is rolling out in prisons in the South West alongside the time banking of the hours that offenders spend volunteering.
The Times2 project involves offenders working with fellow prisoners to help them improve their basic maths skills. The hours accumulated by the mentors are then, usually donated to the Fair Shares ‘Good Will Pot’. The hours in the pot are then used within Gloucestershire to provide time banking hours for our participants, who due to ill health or disability, may not currently be able to earn their own hours. However as the scheme expands we are developing the ability to send hours out to help the families of the offenders who are part of our scheme.
Fair Shares is also working with prisons to develop time banking schemes within individual prisons. These prison time banks will capture to already huge number of hours already given by prisoners to fellow inmates, for example by people on the Listeners Scheme run by the Samaritans and mentors delivering the Shannon Trust’s reading projects. However the aim is to also recognise the vast range of positive skills that offenders could offer to each other.
In addition to all of this, we are a member of the Restorative Justice steering group in Gloucestershire and are currently exploring ways of supporting the existing project plans. We also undertake small scale DIY projects for people referred to us by Victim Support as a way of spending Goodwill hours. In this way the victims of crime are benefiting from positive work undertaken by offenders.
Fair Shares has a long history of involvement with prisons. We worked in partnership with HMP Gloucester from 2004 until the prison closed in 2013. During this time Fair Shares worked with offenders to repair second hand bikes and send them out to Gambia for use by Health Workers. Our staff also filmed DVD’s, to be sent to the offenders children, of the prisoner reading a bedtime story. The aim of the projects was to support communities and to help maintain family bonds. Work we are continuing to build upon today.
Time 2 Change – A pilot project working with offenders in the community
We are undertaking a year long pilot, funded by Lloyds Bank to develop opportunities for people who have an offending history. This work will aim to foster a range of skills including long term volunteering, work readiness and engagement in pro-social networks to aid rehabilitation.