Western College support young offenders at Portland Young Offenders Institute (YOI) with their education and enable the people they support to gain qualifications which hopefully offer people a better chance of gainful employment when they leave prison.
The learners work on all sorts of projects which include carpentry and horticultural as well as a focus on maths and English and developing social skills.
Charlotte Keith, Service Development Lead, Sally Skelton, Property & Development Assistant and Samantha Clarke, Home Admin Support visited the YOI and were given the opportunity to see the facilities and examples of the work the learners are currently undertaking and it's very apparent they have a wealth of talent and it's really encouraging that people, for whatever reason have ended up serving a custodial sentence, are gainfully supported to improve their lives.
As part of this programme the YOI are able to support charitable organisations in the local area. The Horticultural Department has provided a regular supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for the Portland Food Bank and it really has made a difference, not only to the people who use the Food Bank but to the learners who have been responsible for growing and tending the plants. For many it's the first time they have connected with other people in the sense that they, via feedback received, have recognised they too can make a positive difference and can contribute to a local community.
One of Encompass (Dorset) services, The Coach House, which offers supported accommodation for adults with enduring mental health problems in Weymouth has recently benefited from this collaboration with the YOI. The tenants wanted a gazebo and this was an ideal project for NVQ Carpentry Learners who have had full involvement in the plan, design and build. They have done a cracking job!
They are now designing a sensory garden for one of our services in Bridport, 193 St Andrews Road, which supports adults with severe learning disabilities and behaviour that challenges services. 193 offers a registered residential service plus two flats where people hold their own tenancy and the support is built around them to meet their needs and outcomes.
We're delighted that we can work with the YOI in this way providing benefits not only for the learners but also for the people we support.