Members After Prison (MAP) Group

Members After Prison (MAP) Group

ACE’s Members After Prison (MAP) group began in March 2016 when a group of ex-offenders, who had been supported from prison by Caritas Care’s ACE project, got together to look at ways in which they could, not only support each other and the project, but also work with young people who may be at risk of offending to prevent them entering the Criminal Justice System.

MAP fills a gap for people whom have outgrown the holistic ‘through the gate’ support service offered by the ACE Project and has given these men a focus to continue ‘on the right path’ and gain life skills and experience a new way of living, having gained a confidence and resilience to navigate life’s up and downs.

The Group has evolved and now has a core membership of MAP ‘Ambassadors’ who all use their experiences of prison and their life pathway as a resource in helping others.

What MAP have done to achieve this?

Peer Support – Weekly MAP Group

The one common experience each Ambassador of the MAP group has is an understanding of each other and the issues they faced when leaving Prison. The group come together in a safe environment where they are understood and offer mutual support to each other in their rehabilitation from issues such as addiction and offending behaviours, complimenting their journey in creating a positive life back in the community.

The group encourages and gives people with a criminal history an opportunity to steer themselves onto a new pathway towards building positive relationships with themselves and within the communities they live.

Our MAP Ambassadors have been involved in numerous volunteering activities such as; working in Caritas Care’s Charity Shops, Painting and Decorating of the charity’s premises and giving up their time to work with young people who have been identified as ‘at risk’ of offending and displaying anti-social behaviour.

The MAP group meets every Tuesday and is supported by ACE staff and volunteer team members when needed. The group, peer led by the Ambassadors themselves, offers a chance to meet socially, plan activities together as a group, whilst at the same time identifing opportunities for learning and areas of mutual support.

Walking Group

Working in partnership with Discover and Lancashire Community Sport Initiative (CSI), MAP Ambassadors have formed a walking group who meet regularly to explore the countryside. These walks are researched and pulled together by one of our MAP Ambassadors who does a recce a few days before and completes a risk assessment.

Equipment is made available for loan such as walking boots and water proof clothing.

These walks are a great opportunity for our MAP Ambassadors to talk to each other in a safe environment and encourages them to engage in positive social interaction with new people, as well as improving their mental health and wellbeing.

Working with Young People

The Mock Cell

Supported by the team at the ACE project, the MAP group made to-scale a mock cell, laying out all the internal items such as the bed, toilet and wash basins. With props donated by Preston Prison, they are able to act out through role play allowing the audiences to experience under these conditions, using actual clothing, footwear and eating utensils. Depending upon the audience, targeted hard hitting workshops are being delivered that show the harsh realities of life in prison by using the mock cell and interactive activities to help engage and inform.

Alternative High

A 2 night residential weekend set in an activity centre in Brathay, Lake District, Alternative High seeks to engage with a group of young people who have been involved in or at risk of displaying anti-social behaviour.

Groups of young people from Lancaster Ridge Estate are invited to take part in activities to help them build and recognise their own personal skills and engage in team tasks. The aim is to help to steer these young people away from their current behaviour where there is temptation of drug use and anti-social activity by exploring ‘alternative’ ways to spend their time and have fun safely.

Acting as positive role models and mentors, our MAP Ambassadors provide one to one support to the young people and let them choose their own ‘Buddy’ for the weekend. The weekend is both challenging and rewarding with both parties taking part in tasks to help them overcome their fears, develop their skills and recognise their strengths.

Bendrigg Alternative Scheme (Bendrigg Trust)

The Bendrigg Trust is a residential activity centre near Kendal, providing a range of outdoor activities for people with learning and physical disabilities.

The aim of the scheme is to offer people with a history of criminal offences or those at risk of offending the opportunity to be of service to others and to gain valuable work experience that can support them back into education or employment.

Our thanks and appreciation goes to Caritas Care and ACE project supporter Revd Dr David Peacock OBE, who has kindly funded 3 of our MAP Ambassadors to spend up to 5 days to work with the team at Bendrigg helping their disabled guests with their activity programmes and domestic duties. We are delighted that our first MAP Ambassador will be taking up this opportunity in April 2017 and will be working with 12 people with learning disabilities.

Training

All of our MAP Ambassadors are given the opportunity to attend training or awareness courses to support the work they do and the activities they undertake on behalf of Caritas Care.

The range of courses include:

  • Befriending
  • First Aid
  • Health & Safety
  • Hepatitis C Awareness
  • Novel Psycho-active Substances Awareness
  • Naloxone Awareness (Saving Lives)

The courses are chosen to equip the MAP Ambassadors with the skills and knowledge they need, not only to support each other as a group, but to be prepared and able to deal situations when participating in activities with young people and peers.

Our ACE team also work with the MAP Ambassadors to help them to become employment ready. We work with them to help them to prepare their CV’s paying particular attention to how they would deal with disclosing their past criminal activity and assisting them to recognise and communicate the skills and knowledge they have gained through the activities and volunteering they have participated in.