What is Through the Gate?
Through the Gate (TTG), or Offender Resettlement, services play a vital role in any prisoner’s rehabilitation. For many ex-offenders, leaving prison can be an extremely daunting moment. Many may have lost their personal support network (family and friends) during their time in custody, some have no money and a few may have other underlying issues. On average, 11% of offenders have no fixed place of residence to return to. These challenges can significantly increase the probability of reoffending as many fall back into a cycle of crime to overcome these barriers.
TTG exists to prevent these things from happening and encourage long term resettlement and rehabilitation. Importantly, TTG involvement often starts right at the beginning of a prison sentence, allowing staff to start building a relationship with their client (the offender) that continues through until after their release. They may help deal with various issues, such as pets left at home, financial worries or benefit queries. During this period, staff usually start drawing up plans for their client’s long term rehabilitation. Throughout the sentence, support workers work within the prison setting to offer ongoing advice and aid with any issues that may arise. This maintains constant contact between the clients and the TTG organisation and ensures that support is provided throughout their time in custody. Towards the end of a prison sentence, TTG workers will meet with their client again and start to draw up resettlement plans, ensuring everyone has someone to turn to for support upon release.
After ex-offenders walk through the prison gates to freedom, TTG workers are there to offer them the support and advice they need to successfully reintegrate within society. Their support is tailored to each individual and covers a wide range of areas including debt management, housing, employment, education, training, financial queries, and many more. All of this support is vital to each person’s rehabilitation. By maintaining constant support both during and after the prison sentence, TTG is able to make a significant difference to the lives of those in its care.
Why is it so important?
TTG is important because it helps to break the cycle of crime. It gives people the support network they need to find their feet. Reoffending costs the UK between £9.5 and 13 billion every year. Almost half of adult prisoners will reoffend within one year of release from prison, and this rises to 60% for those serving a sentence of less than 12 months. TTG services are a key way of reducing these figures.
Most offenders say that having a job, a place to live and a support network would make them less likely to reoffend. TTG staff can help people achieve these things. By offering patience, support, advice, legal aid, empathy and kindness, TTG guides people towards a better and brighter future. Our justice system is not just about punishment, it’s about reform and rehabilitation. Once these individuals are released, they have served their time and been punished for their past mistakes. Leaving them alone to struggle in silence with the barriers that are presented to them on release, such as finding a job, a home, or setting up a bank account, helps no one. If they reoffend, they end up back in prison and the tax payer often ends up paying the bill.
Helping to break the cycle of crime is the way forward; it is a way to help the whole community. It keeps our streets safer, cuts down on expenditure that could be spent elsewhere, and helps people that need our support the most.
Could you get involved in TTG?
If you have a background in education, law, housing, support work or social work, careers in the TTG sector could be a perfect opportunity for you. The work can be extremely rewarding and there is a real opportunity to make a difference. You ideally need to have strong communication skills, work well with people from all backgrounds, be able to motivate others, have good empathy skills, and maintain a positive, can-do attitude. Most importantly, you need to be able to look past the labels ‘offender’ or ‘ex-offender’ to see the human being underneath. These people may have made mistakes in the past, but by giving them the help they need, you could help them gain a second chance.
If you would like to find out more about TTG or want to apply for roles in this sector, why not attend the upcoming Shelter Offender Resettlement Careers Event on 6th July 2017 at the Training Centre at HMP Manchester. Click here to find out more.