Mosaic’s ex-offender mentoring pilot in Yorkshire is a unique partnership with West Yorkshire Police, HMP Leeds and training prison, HMP Wealstun. The pilot is part of Mosaic’s national initiative, the Ex-offender Mentoring Programme, an initiative that specifically helps 18-35 year-old Muslim ex-offenders to move on from crime and lead law abiding lives.
Mabs Hussain, Superintendent from West Yorkshire Police and Mosaic Yorkshire Regional Leadership Group member, said of the pilot: “Prisoners are at their most vulnerable to re-offending at the point of release.Through our partnership with Mosaic and this pilot we want to reduce the number of re-offences and show these ex-offenders that there is another path for them to tread.”
Mosaic mainly work in areas in which young people have low aspirations and expectations from life and very often, have no positive role-models to look up to, a factor that has been show to contribute to offending. Additionally, when Mosaic launched its Ex-Offender Programme in 2009, members of the Muslim Community made up a staggering 12% of the prison population, compared with just 2% representation from wider society. In December 2012, the number of young Muslim prisoners (18-20 years old) stood at a shocking 21%.
During the Yorkshire pilot, mentors were trained in two groups: one group in March and one in June. The weekend of training took place at Bradford University, where mentors learnt how to apply resources to their mentoring, the importance of listening, boundaries and processes within the British Justice System.
Yahyaa Suleman, a trainee mentor at HMP Wealstun said of the experience so far: “In the training programme we were shown a video of an ex-offender who was talking about his experience of prison and the negative effect it had on his family. He also made a statement saying, ‘ex-offenders are like normal people, it’s just the history that people don’t look at’. That statement really touched me as it’s not every day you get an opportunity to change a person’s future and help them move on from their past.”
Following the training, mentors were security cleared before taking part in an orientation visit where they toured prison facilities, met key contacts, prison staff and the prisoners themselves. The Mosaic team was also allowed to see some cells, prison leisure areas and the educational facilities that are used to support vocational training.
Mentor and mentee are first introduced during a facilitated meeting which serves as a ‘getting to know you’ session and sets the expectations and boundaries of the relationship. If both parties are happy to work with each other, mentoring begins with just the mentor and mentee present and sessions focused on issues relevant to the individual mentee.
A former mentee commented of the experience: “My involvement in this programme really changed my life. If it wasn’t for Mosaic, I would probably be back in prison now. As it is, I’ve managed to stay out of trouble, get a job and get back to together with my girlfriend. Life is looking good!”
Find out more about the Ex-offender Mentoring Programme