We need your help – if you have the ability to empathise and listen to others
and you feel that you would like to contribute to Yellow Ribbon Community
Chaplaincy as a mentor or befriender then please email
or telephone Jo on 01743 588 201
or download an application form. Mentor Application
for more information about mentors click here.
Many of our clients leave Prison with very little, others no longer have a home to go to. Some walk out with just a £46 pay out from the Prison Service, which they are given on release and no family support, The aim of Yellow Ribbon is to prevent people being pushed out of society. 3 out of every 4 of our clients have been homeless. Often, they have struggled with issues such as substance misuse, mental health, debts and isolation.
The project was piloted in Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire in 2013/4, in 2014 it started working in Worcestershire. Following the Transforming Rehabilitation changes in 2015, it started to develop relations across the wider West Midlands region. It has helped more than 200 people who have served short prison sentences. Yellow Ribbon will assess their suitability for the project, discuss their aspirations for the future and build relationships with them. On the day of release, a team member will meet the client at the gate or the next day, and support them in getting their lives back on track. This can mean sorting out benefits, appointments, getting to court, listening to concerns, getting CVs ready for work and accessing accommodation.
It is about building up their self-esteem and hope for the future.
There is another life out there and many of them need to realise they are a person other than a criminal. We work more with those who are not such a great risk of harm and may have a high risk of re-offending. Some have been in that world for many years and desperate to move on. For those people we can offer a complete step change, helping them with each of the hurdles they hit. Can you imagine coming out with nowhere to live, no money or family support in this weather? They can sign on in prison but many rely on Employment and Support Allowance, which takes weeks to come through after their release date. Our clients are given £46 from the prison service when they leave and for many, that’s all they do have. That money doesn’t go far when you have to put down a deposit for accommodation. Since it started in October 2013, the project has grown to cater for clients in other neighbouring counties.
Yellow Ribbon is made up of 6 paid staff and 100 volunteers, who work with the ex-offenders in the community. Some volunteers previously used the service and are now giving back to help others in their situation.
Yellow Ribbon has now teamed up with Green Pastures Housing, a registered charity, which provides housing for the homeless, to run a home in Shrewsbury for ex-offenders. This is following difficulties finding a house for our clients in social housing or multi-occupancy housing in Shrewsbury. Yellow Ribbon will now be running the house, with the support of local charities. The quality of where people live is absolutely essential.
Without our help many of our clients would quickly return to prison. Themain thing is that our clients need to be seen as part of society. What we are seeking to do is help them have fulfilled purpose for lives as part of society. Many of them want to do that. Many clients on release have had children with multiple partners and by “stabilising” our clients we are having a positive effect on the community. Society doesn’t seem to grasp the whole picture as to what the end result will be if they contributed a little bit of time instead of knocking our clients down again. They would end up back in jail very quickly without support.
Substance misuse is a key issue If we can encourage people to get involved there are a number of groups to support them. One client, who did not wish to be named, said : “Yellow Ribbon helped me to find new accommodation and move areas. In a court case they put my case forward that I am a person of value other than what my record says. They have helped me refine myself in a more positive and secure way and gave me confidence in moving forward. I have been able to make a life for myself.”
Yellow Ribbon also works to secure work placements and this can lead to a permanent employment, 95% of our clients want to change but there are so many issues involved.
To donate or for more information call 01952 878592