Paul came to the ACE (Assisted Community Engagement) Service seeking to improve his life after a period in prison.
At first, he was hesitant to join as he had arrived at Christmas time and the group were playing pass the parcel. He said he had wondered what he had walked in to! Paul was a fast learner and he quickly realised that the service operated in an open and inclusive environment and settled in well. The staff team and volunteers were all very welcoming and were there to offer their time to help the needs of others, just like Paul, who are in a need of a new start.
Paul was allocated an ACE volunteer who helped him to complete applications for college and accompanied him to his first interview.
Paul said, “The offer of a lift to my interview and having someone to sit with me were a great help to calming my nerves. This has made me want to get involved in helping others who were just like me to access support. ”
Paul now volunteers for MAP group (a peer educative workshop programme) and has become a mentor to others.
Sharon Smith, ACE Service Manager said, “Participating in an outward bound partnership with Bendrigg Trust, Paul made a tremendous impression with them and on himself. Since that first day with ACE, Paul has been a true Ambassador to supporting ex-offenders. He knows the benefit of choices, chances and having opportunities has on life.
Paul has also presented his personal testimony to the House of Commons select committee on the rehabilitation support he has received. We were delighted when Paul was given this opportunity. He recognises that it was his attitude and openness to engage with the service that has allowed him to flourish. This has been a wonderful thing to witness.”
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Note: Pauls name has been changed to protect his identity and stock image used.