Commissioner Community Grant Scheme funding

The Commissioner Community Grant Scheme has offered us a fund of £2,500 to train 10 ex-offenders as part of our ‘Cascade Jumpstart into Safer Communities’ project.

This fund will help 10 ex-offenders to improve their literacy and numeracy and will significantly improve their employability, moving them closer to work. This will include:

  • Literacy where learners have never understood their own learning style, thus not achieving at school.
  • ADHD and those who have suffered life changing head injuries or other physical injuries.
  • Those who have been unable to fit into society through their own personal experiences, leading to loneliness and feeling of isolation.
  • Ex-prisoners who need to be able to return to the community and general lifestyles such as using public transport finding a doctor or dentist surgery.

It is our mission to use a new approach to support and educate disengaged ex-offenders and others living within the local community with specific learning difficulties to transform their lives and reduce reoffending. Our project within HMP Doncaster “Dyslexia Behind Bars II”, uncovered a high percentage of prisoners with learning difficulties: 53% had a reading and writing age of four years, 52% of the families of prisoners had learning difficulties and 72% of prisoners had not had a job for many years.

Our interview and course ‘Cascade Personal and Social Development for people with learning disabilities’ runs for six weeks. During this time. we provide a multi-sensory approach to teaching using our own developed unique and innovational programs which are delivered to suit each learner’s individual needs using specialist designed IT software.

All our learners develop their skills, behaviours and attitudes through direct instruction and added support as necessary which enables learners to learn and grow in self-knowledge, social interaction, physical and emotional health with self-determination through our project-based activities.

We improve the numeracy and literacy of learners so that they can become self-sufficient. Evidence from employees such as Marks & Spencer shows that employees recruited from disadvantaged groups demonstrate low turnover rates than the wider workforce. The higher value placed on having a job with the desire to stay out of prison often means ex-offenders have high levels of loyalty and retention.

In Doncaster there are four prisons within a 10-mile radius and we found that 75% of employees will not hire these claimants because of their previous convictions. Joe (not his real name) had been volunteering for three days a week for three years with a local charity; their policy was not to employ anex-offender. After nine sessions with Cascade he decided to leave the other charity and is now understanding how dyslexia is stopping people getting their CSCS card. He is also helping in our community café and attending meetings with potential funders. The skills he had developed whilst in prison were overlooked because he was unable to find employment due to his criminal record.

Huge thanks to the South Yorkshire Police and Commissioner for funding this project giving 10 ex-prisoners the opportunity to change their lives!