Formerly the National Association For The Care And Resettlement Of Offenders, Nacro is a national social justice charity with more than 50 years’ experience of changing lives, building stronger communities and reducing crime. Nacro educates, supports, advises and speaks out for and with disadvantaged young people and adults. They are passionate about changing lives and in 2017/18, Nacro helped around 32,000 people.
Nacro needed a programme to build the self-belief and self-esteem of ex-offenders recently released from prison.
The charity has many services such as housing, education and resettlement to help people to move on. Nacro also links to many other governmental and charitable organisations who provide practical support and vocational training to help ex-offenders. Often ex-offenders struggle with a sense of worthlessness and feel disempowered. They do not have the confidence to accept the help and opportunities available to them. Without accepting this support they may sadly re-offend.
Nacro needed a partner who could work with them, their clients and their partners to build ex-offenders’ own confidence, belief and esteem.
PEAR’s approach was to design a two-week psychological education programme for ex-offenders. It helped them to understand their own behaviours, patterns of thinking and emotional responses, particularly when in stressful situations.
The programme consisted of cognitive and behavioural models made accessible and contextualised for the situations participants found themselves on release.
There was significant work done on recognising that people are not simply the sum of their behaviours. Other components of the programme included goal setting and goal realisation.
PEAR worked with participants to develop a series of interpersonal skills including dealing respectfully and confidently with people in authority.
We needed to recognise that ex-offenders had both internal and external barriers to overcome when trying to get back into the community and develop a useful role in society. We, therefore, worked with various charities and governmental partners. These partners provided assistance on debt management, drug and alcohol misuse, mental health services.
Our facilitators needed to build a working alliance with participants. While not providing therapy the facilitators worked in a therapeutically informed way. They acknowledged the sometimes substantial anxieties that these participants experienced. They respected any disclosures and provided the boundaries to keep participants safe.
Participants created their own goals with support from our team and this included accessing many of the services that Nacro and their partners provided. The programme ran over two years at various locations in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
Participants assessed the programme extremely positively with marked upturns in self-belief and self- confidence. During the programme, many participants started to make use of this to register and apply for many of the services available to them. Also, every participant was able to set personalised goals for themselves.
Nacro reported a significant uptake in the services they supplied to ex-offenders and a willingness to engage in the other training and development programmes they offered to participants. Furthermore, partner organisations such as the DWP experienced an increase in the use of their services.