Going straight: how The Footprints Project is helping ex-offenders turn their lives around

Bournemouth Echo: Ex-offenders are getting the support they need from Footprints Ex-offenders are getting the support they need from Footprints

“When someone comes out of prison they’re very vulnerable. You need someone who cares.”

The Footprints Project is all about people who care.

Set up almost ten years ago, the organisation aims to turn around the lives of ex-offenders by helping them settle back into the community on their release from prison and reduce the risk of re-offending.

It works with people released from any prison in the country, who are coming back to Dorset or South Somerset, but is hoping to expand to Hampshire and Wiltshire in the near future.

Volunteers with the project, of which Dorset resident Kate Adie has just become patron, work with prisoners during their sentence, and then meet them at the gate on their release.

“We provide a housing officer for Guy’s Marsh, which ensures that everybody leaving Guy’s Marsh has accommodation,” explained Jane Barkes, the project’s manager.

“Some of the other prisons do have that, but Footprints has responded to the need by providing a housing officer there. That’s not just for Footprints’ clients, that’s for all of them.”

But it’s the time spent with ex-offenders on their release from prison which Footprints deems most vital.

“These clients are so determined that they want to change,” said Jane.

“They want to reverse all these habits that they’ve got. They want to see their children, their friends, they’re full of love and remorse.

“But as soon as they hit that gate, unless you’re there to meet them, they will revert back to what they know and what’s familiar.”

Footprints will sort out accommodation for ex-offenders, provide toiletries, a mobile phone, help them claim benefits, set them up with a GP and even put them in touch with drug and alcohol support groups.

Volunteers will often see a client four or five times in the first week, then will gradually see them less and less until they feel able to cope alone.

With many of the project’s clients having drug and alcohol problems, there is a high chance they will re-offend.

But Footprints aims to extend the length of time between prison sentences, before the penny drops.

“If you’re there to meet them and say ‘this is what we’ve got in place, I’m going to help you’, they can do it,” said Jane.

“We help people to help themselves. One of the ways to do that is by increasing their network of support. Some people like to have an AA sponsor, some people like to have a member of the church, some people have family, some people have a great friend.

“They need to have a network of people they can ring if they feel vulnerable, but before they get to the point where they feel they need to use.”

Footprints is now looking to raise significant funds for its expansion, and is also desperate to recruit more volunteers to drive the project, particularly female volunteers to work with female clients.

Finding reliable volunteers has always proved difficult for Footprints, as the work is not particularly consistent, so commitment – and patience – are vital.

“The clients need a lot of encouragement,” explained Jane, who insists volunteering is a hugely rewarding role.

“You see what people can do. If they turn round and say they want some help on their release and Footprints says no, then who are they going to go to?

“Because there is nothing else.

“As a charity we are in a position to say you’ve asked for help, we will give it to you. We will give them a chance, because somebody’s got to give them a chance.”

  • To find out more about the Footprints Project, or to become a volunteer, email jane@footprints.co.uk

Comments (12)

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12:13pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Huey says...

It is initiatives like this that can reduce reoffending significantly.
Well done to all involved.
It is initiatives like this that can reduce reoffending significantly. Well done to all involved. Huey

1:10pm Sun 12 Jan 14

elite50 says...

Brilliant!
All of these people lining up to help the crims.
Where is the help for the victims of these people?
The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever.
When is it the victims turn?
Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event?
Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)?
I do!
The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due!
Brilliant! All of these people lining up to help the crims. Where is the help for the victims of these people? The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever. When is it the victims turn? Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event? Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)? I do! The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due! elite50

1:22pm Sun 12 Jan 14

winton50 says...

elite50 wrote:
Brilliant!
All of these people lining up to help the crims.
Where is the help for the victims of these people?
The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever.
When is it the victims turn?
Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event?
Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)?
I do!
The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due!
Yes because that attitude has really worked well in the past hasn't it?

Recidivism for offenders serving 12 months or less is at 58%. Ironically the tougher this government talks the higher the rate goes.

Offenders get little or no help when leaving prison.

So you tell me imagine you leave jail, have nowhere to live and have no money. You're hungry and cold. What would you do?

The evidence (evidence rather than prejudice) shows that offenders go back to what they know. Charities like this give them the chance to turn their lives around and break the re-offending cycle. From society's perspective it may not give us a warm feeling inside but it works out better in the medium term.

And to be fair I often walk around Kinson, West Howe and Charminster in complete safety. The fact is that the crime rate is coming down but the FEAR of crime is rising because of people scaremongering and politicians trying to buy votes by sounding tough.
[quote][p][bold]elite50[/bold] wrote: Brilliant! All of these people lining up to help the crims. Where is the help for the victims of these people? The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever. When is it the victims turn? Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event? Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)? I do! The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due![/p][/quote]Yes because that attitude has really worked well in the past hasn't it? Recidivism for offenders serving 12 months or less is at 58%. Ironically the tougher this government talks the higher the rate goes. Offenders get little or no help when leaving prison. So you tell me imagine you leave jail, have nowhere to live and have no money. You're hungry and cold. What would you do? The evidence (evidence rather than prejudice) shows that offenders go back to what they know. Charities like this give them the chance to turn their lives around and break the re-offending cycle. From society's perspective it may not give us a warm feeling inside but it works out better in the medium term. And to be fair I often walk around Kinson, West Howe and Charminster in complete safety. The fact is that the crime rate is coming down but the FEAR of crime is rising because of people scaremongering and politicians trying to buy votes by sounding tough. winton50

2:06pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Derf says...

winton50 wrote:
elite50 wrote:
Brilliant!
All of these people lining up to help the crims.
Where is the help for the victims of these people?
The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever.
When is it the victims turn?
Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event?
Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)?
I do!
The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due!
Yes because that attitude has really worked well in the past hasn't it?

Recidivism for offenders serving 12 months or less is at 58%. Ironically the tougher this government talks the higher the rate goes.

Offenders get little or no help when leaving prison.

So you tell me imagine you leave jail, have nowhere to live and have no money. You're hungry and cold. What would you do?

The evidence (evidence rather than prejudice) shows that offenders go back to what they know. Charities like this give them the chance to turn their lives around and break the re-offending cycle. From society's perspective it may not give us a warm feeling inside but it works out better in the medium term.

And to be fair I often walk around Kinson, West Howe and Charminster in complete safety. The fact is that the crime rate is coming down but the FEAR of crime is rising because of people scaremongering and politicians trying to buy votes by sounding tough.
Isn't it the prison's job to rehabilitate offenders, not a charity?
[quote][p][bold]winton50[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]elite50[/bold] wrote: Brilliant! All of these people lining up to help the crims. Where is the help for the victims of these people? The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever. When is it the victims turn? Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event? Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)? I do! The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due![/p][/quote]Yes because that attitude has really worked well in the past hasn't it? Recidivism for offenders serving 12 months or less is at 58%. Ironically the tougher this government talks the higher the rate goes. Offenders get little or no help when leaving prison. So you tell me imagine you leave jail, have nowhere to live and have no money. You're hungry and cold. What would you do? The evidence (evidence rather than prejudice) shows that offenders go back to what they know. Charities like this give them the chance to turn their lives around and break the re-offending cycle. From society's perspective it may not give us a warm feeling inside but it works out better in the medium term. And to be fair I often walk around Kinson, West Howe and Charminster in complete safety. The fact is that the crime rate is coming down but the FEAR of crime is rising because of people scaremongering and politicians trying to buy votes by sounding tough.[/p][/quote]Isn't it the prison's job to rehabilitate offenders, not a charity? Derf

2:15pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Rabbitman64 says...

Although this project is a really good, unfortunately without employment and tory benefit cutbacks it is likely to be at best of little benefit!
Although this project is a really good, unfortunately without employment and tory benefit cutbacks it is likely to be at best of little benefit! Rabbitman64

2:22pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Desperado says...

elite50 wrote:
Brilliant!
All of these people lining up to help the crims.
Where is the help for the victims of these people?
The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever.
When is it the victims turn?
Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event?
Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)?
I do!
The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due!
No !! I don't remember when you could walk down any street in Charminster, West Howe, Kinson and feel safe day or night .
[quote][p][bold]elite50[/bold] wrote: Brilliant! All of these people lining up to help the crims. Where is the help for the victims of these people? The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever. When is it the victims turn? Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event? Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)? I do! The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due![/p][/quote]No !! I don't remember when you could walk down any street in Charminster, West Howe, Kinson and feel safe day or night . Desperado

3:14pm Sun 12 Jan 14

High Treason says...

elite50 wrote:
Brilliant!
All of these people lining up to help the crims.
Where is the help for the victims of these people?
The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever.
When is it the victims turn?
Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event?
Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)?
I do!
The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due!
The fact is you are correct. Society appears to be focused on those in society who do not live a normal life and prop them up. No one is bothered how criminals have altered the lives of those who are victims. Of course there are more murders and more crime, the sentences are hardly a deterrent. They live a lot better than those outside on basic wages with everything found including TV and the internet. Your car can get stolen, they may get 6 months and come out in 3, usually a community order. Who pays for the damaged car. We do through increased insurance. We even pay for their legal team. British justice is a farce.
[quote][p][bold]elite50[/bold] wrote: Brilliant! All of these people lining up to help the crims. Where is the help for the victims of these people? The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever. When is it the victims turn? Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event? Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)? I do! The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due![/p][/quote]The fact is you are correct. Society appears to be focused on those in society who do not live a normal life and prop them up. No one is bothered how criminals have altered the lives of those who are victims. Of course there are more murders and more crime, the sentences are hardly a deterrent. They live a lot better than those outside on basic wages with everything found including TV and the internet. Your car can get stolen, they may get 6 months and come out in 3, usually a community order. Who pays for the damaged car. We do through increased insurance. We even pay for their legal team. British justice is a farce. High Treason

3:20pm Sun 12 Jan 14

High Treason says...

winton50 says...
So you tell me imagine you leave jail, have nowhere to live and have no money. You're hungry and cold.

That is their problem. I bet they are not worried about some old soul who wakes every night at any odd noise, still terrified from when some low life broke into her house. Of course not, their mindset is self first.
winton50 says... So you tell me imagine you leave jail, have nowhere to live and have no money. You're hungry and cold. That is their problem. I bet they are not worried about some old soul who wakes every night at any odd noise, still terrified from when some low life broke into her house. Of course not, their mindset is self first. High Treason

3:30pm Sun 12 Jan 14

pete woodley says...

I wonder how these dogooders would feel if they were the victim of crime especially violence.
I wonder how these dogooders would feel if they were the victim of crime especially violence. pete woodley

4:02pm Sun 12 Jan 14

HRH of Boscombe says...

Desperado wrote:
elite50 wrote:
Brilliant!
All of these people lining up to help the crims.
Where is the help for the victims of these people?
The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever.
When is it the victims turn?
Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event?
Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)?
I do!
The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due!
No !! I don't remember when you could walk down any street in Charminster, West Howe, Kinson and feel safe day or night .
Desperado? Drama Queen more like.
.
Have you ever been out of your backyard? Bournemouth is one of the safest places in the world. I've never felt unsafe in those areas.
.
Stop watching so much TV!
[quote][p][bold]Desperado[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]elite50[/bold] wrote: Brilliant! All of these people lining up to help the crims. Where is the help for the victims of these people? The crims get minimal sentences for their crimes because:- The prisons are over-crowded or the poor thugs had a bad upbringing or whatever. When is it the victims turn? Do any of you remember when a murder was a rare event? Do you remember when you could walk down any street (including Charminster, West Howe, Kinson etc) in complete safety (day or night)? I do! The pendulum is due to swing back. It is long over-due![/p][/quote]No !! I don't remember when you could walk down any street in Charminster, West Howe, Kinson and feel safe day or night .[/p][/quote]Desperado? Drama Queen more like. . Have you ever been out of your backyard? Bournemouth is one of the safest places in the world. I've never felt unsafe in those areas. . Stop watching so much TV! HRH of Boscombe

7:48pm Sun 12 Jan 14

BIGTONE says...

Derf says...
Isn't it the prison's job to rehabilitate offenders, not a charity?


Didn't you know?.....The country IS run on charity.
Derf says... Isn't it the prison's job to rehabilitate offenders, not a charity? Didn't you know?.....The country IS run on charity. BIGTONE

10:36pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Alumchiner says...

Got to say as someone who worked with PPO's and probation in the past......these statistics are measured on convictions after release. We had one prolific offender who had 145 'incidents' with all the agencies - i'm not going to list them all, but his behavior was measured by his convictions.......le
ts face it and get real, these are the dross of our society and if they and prolific or on crack they arn't going to give a toss on re-offending, its just not getting caught that means anything. They are often congratulated and are seen as 'doing well' as they turn up for probation meetings on time - remember thats a condition of early release...........
Got to say as someone who worked with PPO's and probation in the past......these statistics are measured on convictions after release. We had one prolific offender who had 145 'incidents' with all the agencies - i'm not going to list them all, but his behavior was measured by his convictions.......le ts face it and get real, these are the dross of our society and if they and prolific or on crack they arn't going to give a toss on re-offending, its just not getting caught that means anything. They are often congratulated and are seen as 'doing well' as they turn up for probation meetings on time - remember thats a condition of early release........... Alumchiner

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