St Giles Trust's response to today's announcement by Secretary of State

St Giles Trust welcomes today’s announcement by Rt Hon Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Justice.

Education, training and employment are vital tools for giving ex-offenders the ability to become independent and fully re-integrate into society. The reforms to prison and probation have brought in radical changes and the importance of these tools needs to play a central role.

St Giles Trust is calling for a renewed commitment to place professionally trained, reformed ex-offenders at the heart of providing resettlement services to others. Education and training both inside prison and outside in the community plays an important role in this.

St Giles Trust’s award-winning Peer Advisor Programme trains serving prisoners and ex-offenders in the community to a Level 3 in Advice and Guidance. By using a mix of first hand experiences and professional qualifications, they become highly credible role models able to reach the most vulnerable, disengaged individuals requiring support.

Maria McNicholl, Head of Prisons at St Giles Trust, who originally developed the Peer Advisor Programme, said:

“Those who have walked in the same shoes as the people who need help are best placed to help. The key is to provide the education opportunities to make this happen. Level 3 is a high level qualification which opens doors for ex-offenders yet we struggle to get this level of qualification funded. Entry level qualifications are still important but do not always translate into employment opportunities once someone is released.”

She continued:

“We also need to remove barriers towards people in prisons gaining valuable work experience both within the prison setting and outside in the community. The prisoners we train under our Peer Advisor Programme gain valuable vocational experience both within prison and outside on ROTL (see editor’s notes). This benefits someone’s reintegration back into society and they are also giving back to the community.”