Local campaign to support ex-offenders launches via new crowdfunding scheme
A new kind of support and mentorship programme aimed at helping Lambeth based young adults that have been and are still involved in crime will be launched on April 1st, through an innovative new crowdfunding scheme called ‘The People’s Panel’.
Roger Blackman, the Chief Executive of The Reasons Why Foundation, a Lambeth based Not-for-profit, has been selected as one of six social justice campaigners to participate in The People’s Panel’, which is a live crowdfunding festival taking place on 30th March that allows participants to pitch for project funds and support in front of a large audience in real time.
For the past 4 months Roger has been attending workshops and seminars to sharpen his project plan through the StreetCraft Scholarship Programme. He was chosen by the Centre for Justice Innovation for a highly coveted spot on this six-month, intensive training and development programme where candidates learn from experts and leaders in the criminal justice and social innovation fields on how to set up, advance, scale and sustain their criminal justice idea.
Roger is now ready to pitch his final idea at a live crowdfunding festival to raise much needed funds. The project called Listen 2 Lambeth, is a new initiative that seeks to support ten, young Lambeth residents who have had an involvement in crime to help them overcome the challenges they face reintegrating into society while exploring new ways of thinking. The scheme aims to provide guidance to foster positive motivational behaviour that will help young people move away from a life of crime and help reduce re-offending.
The support will take the shape of one-to-one guidance sessions with a caseworker, weekly sessions with a trained mentor and access to a job brokering service as well as offer employability and life skills.
Roger founded The RWF having overcome several obstacles himself after his own custodial experience and identifying areas where things could be done differently within the sector that support those people involved in the criminal justice system. The RWF helps young ex-offenders make informed life choices and understand the negative consequences of their actions.
Roger Blackman said:
“We all like to be heard in our lives, but we don’t all have the necessary listening there for this to happen. The consequences are that we carry on as if we are unconnected from our communities and have no sense of where we fit in or how much we really matter, to other people and to ourselves. Once we get to understand that we matter, we then want more positive things for ourselves and see the impact we have on others. Here is the start of integration and cohesion into community and family environments.”
After spending five years between several prisons, 27-year-old Stockwell resident Shelton realised he wanted a better life for himself. But leaving prison and reintegrating into society proved to not be as easy as he thought. His local job centre put him in touch with Roger Blackman who helped provide him with guidance and mentoring that pointed him in the right direction. He now works as a Community Organiser for a local charity.
“I wanted to better myself. It was during my second time in jail and I had a lot of time to think about how a lot of my life had been in incarceration. I didn’t know what journey I was going on, it wasn’t happening for me. I needed motivation do positive stuff. But when I came out it was quite difficult to realise that vision. Everything was hard; finding a job, studying, getting any support – the basics. I didn’t have an academic background, didn’t have up-to-date skills, there is a lack of support when you come out of jail, you also don’t understand how society works anymore. Getting back into society is a challenge in itself. Roger gave me the understanding and realisation that I could do whatever I want to, he helped me through each stage and played an older brother kind of role.”
The Listen 2 Lambeth project is looking for support to help other young people like Shelton who need support to desist from crime and chose positive paths that change their lives.
Anton Shelupanov from the Centre for Justice Innovation said:
“Roger’s organisation has a unique approach to supporting young people through a very difficult point at their lives. It’s fantastic to see that his time on the StreetCraft Scholarship programme has been well spent and will result in his excellent work touching the lives of even more people in future.”
Notes to the editor
Interviews with Shelton, Roger Blackman and Anton Shelupanov can be arranged. For further information please contact: Arsheen Qasim on 0207 632 9070 or 07918831964 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More on the crowdfunding project: https://peoplesrepublic.co/p/listening2lambeth
About Roger Blackman
Roger has worked in the criminal justice sector for around 7 years, starting as a volunteer at St Giles Trust. He gained paid employment there and then moved onto freelance youth work with Goals UK and Khulisa. He then moved on to deliver informative and motivational workshops around the subjects that affect young people and lead them into lives that involve crime and negative lifestyles. After numerous obstacles, he decided to found The Reasons Why Foundation to work with more young people effectively, ensuring that every stage of the process had the highest levels of integrity-based care embedded into its design and delivery.
About the Centre for Justice Innovation
The Centre for Justice Innovation is a UK justice research and development charity. We work to build a justice system that holds people accountable, that is fair and feels fair, and which seeks to address the problems of those people who come into contact with it. We believe that many of the best ideas come from the frontline. That’s why we work to give frontline practitioners the freedom and support they need to shape evidence-led responses to the needs of their local communities.
At a national level, we seek to highlight promising new research and practice and work with policy makers to identify and overcome the barriers to change experienced by practitioners.
Internationally, we strive to learn lessons from around globe, with especially strong links to research and practice in the USA through our unique relationship with the Center for Court Innovation.