Beyond Youth Custody


Martin was 17 when he was released from the Young Offender Institution (YOI). He was eager to turn his life around and to create a more positive future for himself. He wanted to go back into the community without people thinking he was ‘scum’ because of his offending. To begin with he was also nervous about meeting his resettlement workers. Having been in local authority care, he was used to having multi-agency support, and as he left the YOI, he was working with not only the Youth Offending Team (YOT), but also Barnardos and the Leaving Care Team. Martin soon developed as positive relationship with his resettlement worker, valuing the fact that they “treat you as a person and not as an ex-prisoner”. He recounted his experience of first meeting his resettlement worker when he had just been released from the YOI. He had been waiting to be seen for quite a while and then one of the team brought him some lunch. This show of thoughtfulness sent a hugely important message to Martin: that the worker cared about his well-being and was not just there to make him “jump through hoops”.

He knew that it was crucial that he didn’t reoffend in the first couple of weeks after release, and so kept himself away from his old friends and from the more familiar places where they were prone to gather. The resettlement team arranged for him to go on a training course straight after his release to gain some basic skills in ICT, English, and Maths. Unfortunately this placement didn’t work for Martin. A lot of the people on this course were troublemakers and he didn’t want to be around them. He quit the course but two weeks later he started on a retail apprenticeship course, having arranged this with the resettlement team’s help. He found this more interesting. He liked the people and thought that it helped to keep him out of trouble.

The resettlement team also arranged for Martin to attend a drug awareness course, which Martin described as one of the most useful things that he had done. While originally having only discussed smoking “weed” in his flat and not making a big deal of it, he later disclosed that he used to have a big problem with drug use.

Martin trusts the resettlement workers and enjoys the chats and the banter with them. He says that they look after him and make him “feel safe”. He says that the resettlement process is working at a steady pace that he’s comfortable with and that he has been keeping out of trouble – partly because of having been in custody and not wanted to repeat the experience, but also because of all the help that he’s received. He feels most proud of keeping all his YOT appointments and not breaching. He says that it was a mixture of things that helped him to succeed, including help from the resettlement team and other agencies – although his determination and motivation probably had a lot to do with it as well.

Tagged with the theme:

Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes