Feltham: faith mentoring scheme at young offender institute wins award

 A pioneering project that supports young men at Feltham young offender institute in West London, by providing them with a volunteer mentor who shares their faith, has received a national award. The Feltham Community Chaplaincy Trust was presented with the award for Best Faith Alliance by Baroness Scotland, Minister for Criminal Justice and Offender Management, and Salima Hafejee, YJB Board Member, at a presentation ceremony at the Home Office. The Youth Justice Alliances Awards recognise youth offending teams and secure establishments which have developed partnerships which are helping combat offending and reoffending by under 17-year-olds. The project aims to provides the vital support to help young people reintegrate, to make the right choices about education, training and employment and halt their offending behaviour. Young men in Feltham YOI who find or re-find their faith are matched with a trained volunteer mentor from the same faith. This volunteer befriends and supports them up to and after they return to the community. In addition to the volunteers, the project employs a Christian and a Muslim Chaplain who encouraging members from local churches and mosques to become involved in the scheme. So far the project has 68 trained volunteers, from Muslim, mainstream Christian, Pentecostal and Hindu faiths and has helped provide support to around 40 young men. Lucia do Rosario, Community Chaplain and Project Director, said: "Since 2005 we have worked with a variety of faith organisations within the community to encourage support and get people involved and we now have an amazing number of dedicated volunteers, without whom this project would simply not happen. "By giving the young men of Feltham the opportunity to be supported by people from their own faith and from the community they will be going back to we can help to improve community integration. The volunteers help with developing contacts and access to employment and make that young person feel more accountable to the community for their actions on release, and this is why we have seen improvements in reducing reoffending rates." Source: FYOI

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