How charities help offenders turn their lives around

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Scottish Government minister Jamie Hepburn meets Taylor and Craig, who have found work with YMCA through CJS

The third sector is helping former offenders transform their lives

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12th July 2016 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Nearly 250 young people with previous convictions have been employed by charities across Scotland, through Community Jobs Scotland (CJS).

Run by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), CJS has already created more than 7,000 paid jobs for young unemployed people in charities.

It creates job opportunities for young unemployed people aged 16 – 29 years old who face the biggest barriers to employment, including those who have been in care, carers, young people with convictions, early service leavers from the armed forces and those with disabilities.

Youth charity YMCA Scotland has employed two young people who previously served time at Saughton Prison through CJS.

On release, CJS helped me get a job within the YMCA, It gave me security, safety and a place to grow and develop

Taylor Crockett, 24, from Edinburgh, who’s a clerical assistant at YMCA Scotland, said: “Before the YMCA, I never really knew what it felt like to be valued, for many years I struggled with crime, drugs and mental health problems which eventually resulted in prison.

“On release, CJS helped me get a job within the YMCA, It gave me security, safety and a place to grow and develop. They never saw me for what I was, only for what I had the potential to be. I'm now in a stable place in my life, have underwent counselling and actively participating in volunteering opportunities.”

Craig Robinson, 26, from Edinburgh, who’s also working at YMCA as a clerical assistant said: “I think it has made a huge difference to my life to be given this chance at YMCA and I feel like now I can have a more positive future.”

Jillian Law, office and projects manager at YMCA Scotland said: “Taylor and Craig have already made a huge impact on YMCA Scotland's work. They bring fresh insights, energy and enthusiasm to work every day and are a real asset to our organisation.”  

Martin Sime, chief executive of SCVO, added: “Community Jobs Scotland has made a significant contribution to the reducing reoffending in Scotland. It has given an opportunity for young people in Scotland who have served their time to get a real job and contribute to the local community.

“Employers in the third sector have welcomed the opportunity to employ these young people and value the contribution they make to communities across Scotland.”

Andy Door, head of enterprise and Employability, at Scottish Prison Service said: “CJS contributes positively to our vision of unlocking potential and transforming lives and has become a significant contributor toward creating positive destinations for those leaving our care. 103 employment opportunities taken up by individuals leaving custody in 2014/15, and a further 116 CJS vacancies were filled by people with convictions in 2105/16.

“Opportunities were offered by 64 employers in 25 local authority areas. 67% of individuals remain in employed by their organisation, with only 7% having returned to custody.”         

Jamie Hepburn, Scottish Government minister for employability and training, said: “Organisations like the YMCA play a crucial role in helping to make Scotland a prosperous and equal society, they are essential to helping us support young people. 

“CJS is an excellent example of how to support our most vulnerable young people, including supporting those coming out of prison to find a job and help them be part of their community.”