Caritas Care’s ACE Service celebrates after receiving over £450k from the National Lottery to work with medium to high risk ex-offenders to help them resettle after their release from prison.
The Assisted Community Engagement Service (ACE), is today celebrating after being awarded over £450,000 in National Lottery funding over a 3 year period to support its work with people released from prison. Working with 110 people at any one time, this grant will allow the team, based in Sedgwick Street, Preston to provide advice, guidance and emotional support to people leaving prison through their crucial first weeks of freedom, tackling issues such as accommodation, benefits and support with drug and alcohol problems to aid successful rehabilitation.
The programme also challenges the stigma felt by ex-offenders once released into the community and addresses possible barriers to rehabilitation which could stop them from progressing.
The ACE service has been running since 2002 and is operated by 6 staff and 10 volunteers along with MA/BA Social Work students. The Member After Prison support group now runs 2 sessions a week, and is run with a mix of service users, volunteers and ambassadors who themselves have been through the programme and seen the impact this has had on their own lives and who want to support others to benefit theirs too. The sessions help people to gaining greater confidence, self-belief and important life skills.
The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will enable the service to continue its excellent work and means that the number of ex-prisoners able to participate.
At the same time, the group will be able to expand their Members After Prison support group, which has become an invaluable lifeline to people who have used the service in the past to maintain links and offer peer support to new and existing members. These groups will help them to build relationships with others experiencing the same challenges and hopefully enable them to develop their own support network.
Dale Tomlinson, Director of Community Services at Caritas Care says: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to press on with our plans to broaden the range of opportunities available to people leaving prison and support them to live stable and crime free lives. This is important because it helps them to build relationships with others facing similar challenges and to create their own supportive circles of friends and peers.”
Sharon Smith, ACE Service Manager says: “We are absolutely thrilled with this news. It means so much to so many people. It’s truly heart-warming to see the distance that people have travelled from when they first engaged with the service to completing our support programmes. We are overjoyed to now be able to continue this work and support even more people to create better lives for themselves.
We are also really happy that our mentors and volunteers, many of whom have been involved in the service for a number of years, can continue to their work to engage and support people as part of their rehabilitation into their families and communities.”
Pictured L to R: Sharon Smith (ACE Service Manager), Liz Snape (ACE Service), Dale Tomlinson (Director of Community Services), and Gary Welsh (ACE Service)