Monday, 11 August 2014

Small amounts of money, carefully given, can change lives.

Last month I was once again in attendance at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) to hear the Annual Report of the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund. You may remember that I attended a riotous (well not literally!) evening “Trial and Error” there in March to raise funds for this charity. 

The charity is supported by the Livery Companies of the City of London as well as charitable trusts and generous individuals. It is not a wealthy charity and makes only relatively small grants – but they have the power to change the lives of people leaving prison. Here are some worrying statistics:
  • nearly half of all serving prisoners have no qualifications
  • 42% were expelled or permanently excluded from school
  • 58% of women and 53% of men identified unemployment and lack of skills        as contributing to their offending
  • 45% of serving offenders lose contact with their families
and the most shocking of all – 30% of people released from prison have nowhere to live and many only own the clothes they stand up in .... and then we are surprised at the rates of re-offending.

This charity works closely with the probation service and gives grants for training in a whole range of skills – food safety and hygiene, beauty therapy, HGV, social care, book-keeping etc – 85 this year; grants for household equipment up this year to 358. The Chairman said that this appeared to show a larger number of beneficiaries moving into their own accommodation. The largest figure was - and always is - for clothing, a total of 619 grants.

It is a charity that the Needlemakers’ Company supports each year and I am happy to support personally – they spend just over £200,000 a year but change and improve many lives.

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