Beyond Youth Custody


Kwame, a Muslim of West Indian heritage, was 20 when he was released from prison. He was offered a choice of resettlement projects by his probation officer; one option reflected his interest in sport and fitness, so he chose that one. The probation officer had worked with the project previously. Kwame was formally referred and met the project worker in the probation office.

Kwame had served the custodial portion of a three- year sentence for a violence related offence, “there were drugs involved”, but he’d had enough of that. He wasn’t particularly confident, and “kept himself to himself”. He wasn’t living in the area where he grew up and, although he had a baby with a former partner, they didn’t live together.

In his own words, Kwame “didn’t have many friends and felt hesitant” about joining a group. His first encounter with the group was a general fitness session where “straight away I was made to feel welcome”. It became apparent that Kwame engaged best when he was active. When out jogging in the park with his case worker, Kwame opened up about his life, experiences, and hopes for the future.

Kwame settled into the group sessions, attended once a week for six months, and became a valued member of the team. As he was keen to be useful, and had a sports qualification, he helped lead the group.

As part of their initial agreement, the project worker shared information with the probation officer who welcomed their “short reports and phone calls, to monitor progress”. When Kwame took leadership responsibilities, for example, the case worker let probation know. This established relationship was “good for both sides”; when Kwame had a review, probation requested a more in-depth report.

Kwame “showed initiative” and impressed staff with his ability to engage young people.  He was always helpful and stepped up when they needed an extra pair of hands; eventually they gave him a paid position. Kwame’s project worker helped him to construct a CV, did mock interviews with him and got him a trial as a fitness instructor at a local leisure facility.

Kwame reports that he “made some good friends” at the project, and that the staff continue to provide him with support. Although he’s now working, Kwame continues to help out at project sport sessions and special events. Sometimes, he takes his toddler with him.

Tagged with the theme:

Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes