Saturday, 15 October 2016

TR Consequences

This from the Guardian:-

Frank's first day out of prison was long and stressful, but I stuck by him

I’m sitting at a window in the administration block of a category B prison in west London. I’m waiting for the week’s discharges to start filing out, heading towards freedom, having paid their debt to society.

I’m there to meet one of them. His name is Frank* and I’ve been seeing him for the past four months as part of a “through the gates” mentoring initiative. Inside Out, the charity behind the scheme, has been matching volunteer mentors from the community with prisoners awaiting release. We volunteers have provided both emotional and practical support to try to minimise the risks of reoffending.

A vital part of this has involved meeting our mentees at the gate, on their day of release, and shepherding them through a myriad of appointments and layers of bureaucracy to try to give them some semblance of permanence at what is a time of enormous change and anxiety.

When I meet Frank outside, he smiles. But it’s short-lived as he seems determined to get on with things. He knows the score. It’s not the first time he’s done this.

We immediately head to the nearest convenience store down the road from the prison. Frank has a list of names and prison numbers and doesn’t hesitate to spend most of his release money (a paltry sum of approximately £30 which every prisoner is given on release), on newspapers and magazines to be delivered to his friends on the inside. They’d do the same for him, he assures me.

With that done, we begin the real work of the day, starting with a meeting at the local probation office, scheduled weeks in advance. Yet Frank’s probation officer isn’t working that day, we discover, so we swiftly carry on to the Jobcentre Plus office. They aren’t expecting him either and the staff instruct him to complete an online application for jobseeker’s allowance.

We sit at a computer and Frank looks lost, his index fingers hovering above the keyboard, occasionally pecking at the keys which seem unfamiliar to him. I offer to take over and together we eventually fill in the form. Frank thanks me, saying he wouldn’t have had the patience on his own.

Afterwards we head to the civic centre where Frank has an appointment to arrange his housing benefit, again arranged well in advance. We arrive early and sign in, then sit in the waiting area and wait our turn. One hour becomes two hours and two become three. We drain multiple cups of coffee. More than once, Frank gets up, clearly irate, and starts to walk out. I have to run after him to convince him he’s throwing away more than he thinks. Eventually we are seen and Frank is granted access to a temporary hostel until his benefits come through.

We walk to the hostel and up to his room. Frank looks visibly relieved to drop his bags. It’s not much, but for the next few weeks it’s his: somewhere he can call home and where he – not a prison officer – can lock and unlock the door as he pleases.

It’s only then, when the security of his lodgings is assured, that Frank starts to think about food. I ask what he’d like for his first meal on the outside. He insists on a Big Mac.

By this time it’s heading into evening and our day together is drawing to a close. We swap phone numbers and agree to keep in touch. Frank gives me a hug, a surprising show of warmth. Before we part, he tells me he couldn’t think of anyone else who would stick by him for a whole day, going through what we have been through. Frank tells me I’ve done more for him than any probation officer or key worker has ever done. He turns and heads off towards, I hope, a brighter future.

* Frank is a pseudonym.

Aris Tsontzos is a trustee of Inside Out. The charity is closing later this month owing to financial problems. Responsibility for mentoring has been passed to the chaplaincy of the prison described.


For me, this is the key bit:-

"The charity is closing later this month owing to financial problems."

No mention of this on their website. A google search brings up nothing. What's the back story? Another inevitable consequence of 'Transforming Rehabilitation' I guess? The project looks good to me and just what Grayling promised, right?   

Our Mission

At Inside Out, our mission is to help a wide range of prisoners make a successful journey from their cells back into society by training and supporting a diverse selection of volunteer mentors to enable them to do so.


We will achieve this through:

* One-to-one relationships
* Advocacy
* Training
* Psychotherapy
* Co-operative Independence

Our mentoring is at an enhanced level because a diverse and experienced range of volunteer mentors deal with a wide range of mentees, including those with a mental health and substance abuse history. They are also pro-active advocates for their mentees in helping to solve their practical problems.


The one-to-one relationship between offender and voluntary mentor is at the heart of our work. It is established inside the prison and continued after release. Many mentees have little support from family or friends and their major need is for somebody independent to talk to. They value the fact that our mentors are completely voluntary and are not connected with any official body. Our volunteers are from a wide range of ages, races, educations, backgrounds, and are of any religion or none. Our mentees are prisoners who express a desire to turn over a new leaf, regardless of age, history or tendency to recidivism.


Inside the prison there are a variety of options for support, but it is not always easy to access them, nor are they always provided efficiently. The mentor may need to chase up:

* Borough affiliation and Probation/CRCs
* Home Detention Curfew applications
* NOVUS - the body inside the prison responsible for rehabilitation of short-term      prisoners,
 including their preparation for life outside
* Access to support for drug and alcohol abuse via RAPt
* Employment options within the prison
* Education
* Legal issues, including outstanding court cases

Outside the prison the mentee is even more likely to need support with the complexities and bureaucracy involved in surviving on the margins of society. The mentor may need to contact:

* Probation or CRC Officer
* Borough Housing Officer and other accommodation providers
* Job Centre Plus
* Drug and alcohol support workers
* GP and other health workers
* Providers of employment or volunteer opportunities
* Education providers
* Solicitors and court officials
* Providers of support for financial issues and debt


All our mentors have two days’ training before being matched with a mentee. They have on-going support sessions and extra training is also available.


Since Inside Out’s inception there has always been a psychotherapist working on the team whose role is to assess risk and offer sessions to offenders with complex needs such as a history of violence, mental health problems or sex offences. They offer therapeutic sessions to a variety of offenders, provide support and extra training to those mentors who are interested in working with these more challenging mentees. In addition to this they work with prison staff and ACCT Assessors offering a Staff Support Service and workshops to develop understanding in complex areas such as trauma.

Co-operative Independence

Operating within the prison system yet retaining full independence we are building synergistic partnerships with other charities and statutory bodies. Independence supercharges the enthusiasm and commitment uniquely provided by volunteers, while co-operation with other providers avoids duplication and enables us to provide coherent services that benefit prisoners.

We are risk assessed and operate as an independent part of the Chaplaincy team, and were highly rated in the recent prison inspection, which said ‘Good resettlement and mentoring services were provided by the Inside Out group’ [HM Inspectorate of Prisons, December 2015]

Our success is confirmed by closely monitoring our own results within the performance of the overall relationship. We are to be formally evaluated by Westminster University in May 2016.

Within the complexities of the evolution of 'Transforming Rehabilitation' we never lose sight of our purpose which is to help prisoners re-enter positively into society.


  1. Who is that gobschite in the gayrdusn article. He vis talking utter crap. All that support should have been done on TTG. People like that make my blood boil. We could all do that if we had a single person to look after

  2. This article has a contrived feel to it. I see it was written by someone with responsibility for marketing.

  3. I agree with comments above! Does he deserve a medal for what he has done? I have worked unpaid as a volunteer but i didn't denigrate the professionals who were doing a tough job day in day out with huge responsibility and worries to take hone with them! I am a PO and will go that extra mile, take service users to housing appointments, call ambulance when they collapse, drive them to hospital with septic leg ulcer, pop into homless shelter to track someone down in lunch break, advocate at housing appeals, etc. Etc. so don't denigrate us to try and earn your sainthood mate!

  4. Kidda in the guardian article sounds a right c##t!!!

  5. Thanks for that! I would love one person to look after every day. Instead, I have deal with 75 high risk people, each of whom have their own complex circumstances to deal with. To get through it, I have to prioritise on who is likely to be the highest risk of harm to the public and fire fight my way through each day. Thank you however for your sanctimonious post, its nice to know you have a whole day to deal with one person. Have a nice day/evening/life

  6. There are mentoring schemes that work but they generally do not work under the TTG banner so as to maintain autonomy and credibility. This particular account sounds like it's been put out by the Grayling/Truss minions to counteract the fact that TTG is a failure. If I were to hazard a guess at the prison this article would have to relate makes it all the more false, and don't even get me started on how bad TTG projects are, even ones supported by RAPt, the chaplaincy and the like. To point out a few strange areas in the article, the mentor relationship wasn't very good if he couldn't advise against spending the discharge grant on magazines (which I don't believe); the Big Mac is usually purchased prior to the probation appointment (which would have gone ahead whether the named probation officer was present or not); and had the mentor possessed any initiative to properly arrange or confirm in advance appointments with the Jobcentre and housing department then these probably would have gone to plan. With this type of support no wonder the project is going out of business, and seemingly it's management have either failed to manage its financial affairs, or bit off more than it could chew by running after TR revenue and partnering with London CRC / MTC Novo perhaps! How a project using free labour is failing is beyond me, but even if it worked this type of mentoring is not a replacement for statutory/professional services and I'm not surprised that with two days training the mentor was gushing over receiving a warm hug. Credit where credit is due though, a hostel place offered through the housing department isn't bad going, and even though Frank was then left without money or food thanks to his mentor support, I'd like to know where this mystery London borough is that offers hostels just like that as I've a caseload of prisoners I'd like to direct there. The dig about the mentor being better than any probation officer or key worker, was it really necessary?

  7. Exactly 20.01 and in addition we have to constantly keep in sight the safety of public and victims, frequently also supporting family members and sometimes also the victims of the dv offenders we work with. ( even though the latter are not strictly our remit) we do it because we actually care about people and public protection and are not trying to score points! Unfortunately we are not in the position to let the guardian know the ins and outs of our working day but in a typical day i could see 7 service users for offending behaviour sessions, calls to social services, a few referrals for support and maybe an oasys review or breach report.would be great to spend the whole day with one service user andctake them to the shops and job centre but i have to earn my salary and multi task!

  8. The article is fictitious by Jim trying to wind us up. Why else would such a divisive read be blogged. Jim this is a cheap shot. Sort it out or were all leave this shit blog

    1. You leave don't speak for me F\O

  9. Oh come on! Do you honestly expect jim to make up such a load of gob-*hite! The guardian is full of this made up cra* and everyone knows it just some wacky reporter who gets something off twitter or facebook and tries to make it news. I read something else from guardian today, a complete non story, about someone's daughter working in admin or pso for probation and apparently sat twiddling her thumbs all day because her boss says she can't do anything, for some unknown reason! As if!

  10. TTG is an absolute nonsense. The flagship project of the TR programme is a debacle. Inevitably, good people wanting to get stuff done, but in reality its a box-ticking exercise with no communication between ... everyone whose combined knowledge of a case might be usefully coordinated.

  11. 2 day training for mentor role, crikey that's some special training. Seriously though mentor role has much to offer properly organised, funded and integrated thoughtfully. Have admired some of work made by mentors. Cases though are likely high level recidivists and / or complex / multiple needs and issues which is why idea of 2 day training shocked me. More work in custodial setting is required by mentors to build relationships and plan for release earlier than at present. Greater liaison and protocols for integrated work also required. Greater accountability too.

  12. Must be the only guy in the history of TR to actually leave prison with a mentor because no one actually does as 3rd sector involvement was ditched by the corporates. Plus the discharge grant is £46 not £30 as stated in the article. Sorry but the whole article reads as a) either a set up by the MoJ to try to demonstrate how well TR is doing on the promise of funding or b) written by an MoJ employee masquerading as an Inside Out employee

    1. Or, as suggested by 20:50 yesterday, its a fabricated article written by Jim Brown as part of a covert operation by left-wing dissidents to discredit the otherwise infallible TR project. Its no doubt the same evil organisation that is trying to: undermine Brexit disguised as Marmite; install Corbyn as President; discredit Boris Johnson.

  13. I have had involvement with a fantastic mentoring programme for vulnerable young people in care of local authority/ fostered. I attended the training and all the screening sessions. Let me just say it was rigorous, as it should be, working alone with vulnerable and sometimes challenging young people. It was 7 days training over 6 week period. We were told that 10% rate of rejection likely. it covered alot of areas i recall from my social work training and trainers woukd observe your behaviour and attitudes. Also pay you a home visit to find out more about you as a person. Those with rigid, inflexible attitudes did not get through. Even after passing mentors would carry on having regular supervision and complete learning diaries. also the opportunity to do an open college network certificate which involved further study.I fully believe in mentoring if it is done well but done badly it could be very damaging. 2 days is not sufficient whatsoever!

  14. There appears to be very little communication in prisons. I've lost count of the number of times I've completed a PD1 only for OMU then TTG to 'phone up and ask for reporting instructions that were on the PD1 sent back a week prior.

    Shambolic is a word frequently used :/