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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!

The Cascade Community Café is open for business!

Our very first community café is now open and providing employment and work experience opportunities for local people with learning disabilities and head injuries.

The Cascade Community Café is based at our Health & Learning Hub on Marshgate in Doncaster and is run by experienced chef, Paul Sanderson, and Cascade learners.

Following a unprovoked attack whilst walking through Doncaster with his two children two years ago, Paul sustained life-changing head injuries and has not been able to work since. Before the brutal assault, Paul had forged a highly successful career in the catering and hospitality industry.

“Ever since we launched the Cascade Health & Learning Hub last summer, we’ve wanted to add a catering element,” explains Jackie Hewitt-Main OBE, founder and chief executive of The Cascade Foundation.

Continues Jackie: “When I met Paul a few months ago and we got chatting, I realised he was the perfect person to lead the Cascade Community Café. Not only does Paul have a personal understanding of what life is like with a head injury, he also has a huge amount of talent and ambition which is just what we need to drive this project forward.”

The Cascade Community Café is open for business

The Cascade Community Café is open for business!

The Cascade Community Café is open for breakfast and lunch from 8.30pm to 1.30pm Monday to Friday. Customers can choose from a tasty menu that includes a full English breakfast with two sausages, two slices of bacon, egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns, beans and toast plus a drink all for just £2.90, jacket potatoes, fresh salads and sandwiches, plus main meals such as meatballs with spaghetti (£2.85) or traditional fish & chips and chicken curry both priced at £3.90. Every dish is created using locally sourced produce.

Adds Jackie: “Paul and the team have worked so hard to get the café up and running and more and more people are coming in every day. We’ve had some excellent feedback from people and lots of suggestions about what they’d like to see on the menu as well as the idea of selling fresh coffee which is something we’re looking into.”

All of the proceeds from food sold in the café is put straight back into the charity to fund other learning projects and help grow other commercial ventures designed to create much needed funds.

Concludes Jackie: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I’d encourage anyone living or working in the area to pop in and sample some of the delicious food that Paul is cooking. And, by doing so, you’ll be contributing directly to the continuation of the work we’re all doing here at The Cascade Foundation to transform people’s lives.”

 

Cascade supports undergrad research

We were delighted to welcome Pam Batchelor, an undergraduate studying Criminology at The University of Surrey, to the Cascade Health & Learning Hub recently.

Pam, who hails all the way from sunny Colorado in the US but has spent the last 25 years here in the UK, is undertaking her thesis this term and the title is: ‘Dyslexia and Crime – a qualitative assessment of ex-offenders with dyslexia and those who work with them with the aim of reducing recidivism.’

Pam Batchelor visited us recently to carry out research for her Criminology degree

Explains Pam: “I’ve always been interested in Criminology, so after raising my kids for the last 15 years as a ‘stay-at-home-mum’, I decided to embark on a degree course in the subject.

“My son is dyslexic and, as part of my undergraduate studies, I’ve already written a few papers within the Youth & Crime module. As such, I started to ask myself if there might be a link between dyslexia and offending and felt compelled to find out more about the social reactions to dyslexia in this particular arena.”

Continues Pam: “I’ve read lots of Jackie’s work and how she has helped prisoners learn to read and write and ensure they don’t return to jail. It costs far less to teach someone reading and writing skills than it does to keep them in prison and I was incredibly impressed with what Jackie had achieved.

“So, I called Jackie and asked if I could visit her in Doncaster and interview some of her current learners, several of whom are ex-offenders, and find out more about their own personal experiences. I heard some inspirational stories and the time I’ve spent talking to everyone involved with the charity has been invaluable for my studies.”

Concludes Jackie: “It was a real pleasure to meet Pam and be in a position to help her with her research; we are always happy to help students and support the work they do to raise the profile of the impact dyslexia has on society. I can’t wait to read her thesis and sincerely hope we can continue to work together in the future!”