Young offenders, who have turned their lives around thanks to the help of a Greater Manchester charity, have shared their stories with the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Message Trust, based in Wythenshawe, works with ex-offenders, offering support, employment and somewhere to live when they’re released from prison.
A year ago, the charity launched The Message Enterprise Centre, which houses five businesses, including a cafe, hair and beauty salon and building maintenance company, all employing ex-offenders.
Tony Lloyd met with some of the young people who have been working at the centre for the last 12 months, including Carl who had previously been in and out of prison. Now he has a steady job at the centre’s cycle recycling business – which refurbishes, repairs and sells bikes donated by the public and Greater Manchester Police – and has stayed out of trouble.
He is one of ten ex-offenders employed by the Message Trust. Many have dozens of convictions but none have reoffended since they started work at the centre.
Tony said: “If we are to truly drive down crime, we need to tackle the revolving door of reoffending by working with offenders to address why they turn to criminality in the first place. This is especially important for our young people, giving them a chance and the tools to turn their lives around. This is what the Message Trust is doing, offering not only employment and accommodation but mentoring and support.
“It’s about building links with the community, giving people the self-worth and determination to work for an honest living instead of falling back into old habits. That was what was inspirational listening to the young men at the centre about how they’ve really helped themselves and been empowered to get off the merry-go round of offending. The police, prisons, probation and organisations like the Message Trust can build the ladder to get out of the hole of criminality, but it’s up to the individual to make the decision to climb up.”
Andy Hawthorne, Founder and CEO, said: “It’s exciting that none of our first ten apprentices have returned to their old destructive cycle of re-offending. We are now keen to step up this work and help many more desperate young people.”
Find out more about the Message Trust at http://www.message.org.uk/