The University of Strathclyde Business School, the Malcolm Group and the Wise Group have announced a partnership to deliver an innovative new programme that supports those leaving the justice system with mentoring, skills, and applied learning.
Forming Futures, a collaboration between Strathclyde Business School (SBS), the Malcolm Group and the Wise Group will enable people who have recently completed a short-term prison sentence or a Community Payback Order to achieve an accredited qualification and make the first steps towards fair, sustainable work. As well as delivering transferable business skills, the course will support students to reintegrate into their communities beyond their conviction and build lives based on desistence.
Alongside intensive relational mentoring support by the Wise Group, this socially inclusive programme will be delivered by academics from Strathclyde Business School over ten teaching weeks. Students will register for a Scottish Credit Qualification Framework (SCQF) Level 6 Certificate in Applied Business Skills, followed by an applied learning placement with industry partner, the Malcolm Group.
Since 2013, the Wise Group has managed and delivered the national throughcare mentoring programme for short term male prisoners in Scotland, which has been shown to dramatically increase the chance of successful reintegration into society. The programme includes, but is not limited to, assistance with accommodation and finance upon liberation, support with mental health and addiction, digital inclusion, connecting universal services and assistance with gaining and maintaining meaningful employment. All of this is underpinned by a supportive and confidence building relationship with a mentor.
Through this blend of support, only 10.5% of those mentored by the Wise Group return to the programme within a year. Forming Futures seeks to reduce that figure even further, leading to a social, cultural and financial benefit to families and communities. Scottish Government data indicates that almost 30% of those serving short term prison sentences return to prison, creating more victims.
University of Strathclyde associate principal and executive dean of Strathclyde Business School, Professor David Hillier, said: "Our Programme will change the lives of our candidates, their families and their communities. As well as furnishing students with transferable skills and work experience, we hope it will improve their aspirations by having the opportunity to participate in learning within the University's environment, whilst continuing their mentoring with the Wise Group.
"At Strathclyde we are committed to ‘useful learning' and this project to help the rehabilitation and re-integration into the community of people who have left prison aligns with that."
Sean Duffy, chief executive of the Wise Group said: "In partnership with Strathclyde, we realised we could create a learning environment where some of the most vulnerable in society could learn and practice to be their best selves. I am delighted to bring this partnership together.
"The students will continue to be supported by mentors from the Wise Group, who in turn will work with Strathclyde Business School teaching staff. As the first partnership of its kind in the UK, we hope that Forming Futures will show a new way of transforming lives though relational mentoring."