Turning Point Scotland have been participating in a successful partnership with Renfrewshire Council to reduce reoffending among women.

Jo Kuturba, Women’s Volunteer Coordinator, Renfrewshire Women’s Services said:

“Our aim is to focus on women who have got a criminal background. We mainly want to focus on how to prevent further offending. We are trying to show them there is a better way and there’s lots of pathways to choose rather than go back to offending”.

It seems to be a really successful programme. We’ve got a high percentage of women who have reduced reoffending and they are very keen to participate in the programme.

Myself and 3 other Turnaround staff are collocated with Criminal Justice Social work and the partnership really works.

Together we can offer women a group work programme, and one to one on a daily basis.

I’m engaging with women very focused on their future life and they know what they want to achieve.

Together as a team we decide with the women the right path for them. Some of the women would like to go back to full time education, some of them would like to go back to employment and give up benefits. Others just want to get more experience and would like to do some voluntary work and give back to the community.
Most of them are still on CPOs or many different orders however they still participate really well.

I’ve been engaging with a woman who had one episode in her life, she struggled for a long period of time. She lost everything. But she ended up in a stage in her life she thought ‘I want to get back to what I had in the past’.

She started engaging with me, we started on a one to one basis just to find out what would be the best way to get her back to her previous lifestyle. She was really keen and interested in voluntary work and in partnership with ‘Engage Renfrewshire’ she was offered voluntary work in Paisley and is now involved in volunteering. She is also going back to full time education and we have offered her a placement during her college course. The college was initially reluctant to take her on given her background but this has been resolved and she will progress with her course.

All those events made her so positive and she has that willingness to return to that life where she was years ago. She is motivated and now helping other volunteers into social care.

Another woman gave up the idea of returning to college because of her background but with the partnership of Criminal justice social work in Renfrewshire and Turning Point Scotland offering placements in many cases this can be overcome.  This woman is now returning to college and feels she has options.  This can really motivate other women when they hear good outcomes from other women.

Apart from moving people into employment from voluntary work I’m also trying to focus on women with very complex needs that need a lot of individual support in terms of the benefits or housing issues or health issues. We support women with doctor’s appointment or court appointment to give them that feeling that they are not alone. We want to support them because we believe in them. We believe with that kind of support they have got a chance to stop reoffending. Sometimes we are the only people who want to back them up and support them. They really appreciate and value our support.

We’ve got another three Turning Point Scotland workers in the criminal justice service in Paisley. Maureen, Amanda and Lesley. We link into the Criminal Justice Social Work because every one of us has a specific role. Amanda focuses on very chaotic women leaving prison, she tries to take them under her wing and tries to stop reoffending. Lesley her role is mainly group work and one to one working with women and men. Maureen works with us one day per week and I focus on women who are more stable and ready to be moved on in their life.

We are based in a criminal justice service in Renfrewshire and we share information and feel very much part of the team.  There is a mutual respect and partnership working allows for better outcomes for the women.  We work together to move the women on in a supportive way.

My role is funded until March 2016 and I have been seconded for a year that was the promotion I got for Turning Point Scotland. I’ve learned lots of things since I started; this is a completely new field for me. I’ve never worked in criminal justice although most of the people I worked with at Link Up had a history of criminal justice. But I wasn’t aware of how the system works. Now I am and how we can use that system to help people rather than put them back in custody. There are lots of alternative options, custody should be a last resort not a first resort. I will be able to use this knowledge when my secondment ends to benefit other service users.”