A caring approach to wellbeing

29 Jun 2022
Unfortunately, people in prison or on probation face health inequalities compared with the general population, and this can harm their chances of reintegrating into society. They are more likely to lead an unhealthy lifestyle, smoking and misusing drugs or alcohol. Mental health problems are also more prevalent, and they are at a higher risk of self-harm and even suicide.

At Ingeus, personal wellbeing is a key strand of the Commissioned Rehabilitative Services (CRS) we deliver to help people get back on track. Ingeus delivers personal wellbeing services in the East Midlands (Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire), West Midlands (Birmingham and the Black Country, Staffordshire, Warwickshire), Yorkshire and the Humber (West Yorkshire, Humberside) and the North East (Northumbria).

Our service users are given tailored, one-to-one support from sympathetic and experienced advisers to help them turn their lives around. These personal wellbeing advisers can help people access further support from our partners, including Change Grow Live and Pact. Some of our service users go on to become peer mentors, helping others to transform their lives.

As well as offering advice, guidance and support with emotional wellbeing, we take each person’s lifestyle into account, and their relationship with their family and other associates. The aim is to address any problems that might be preventing people in prison or on probation from moving forward.

We take a holistic approach to rehabilitating people in prison or on probation and we treat every individual as a person, not a number. Our expert team of health advisers and community partners can help people experience a whole raft of life-enhancing opportunities to improve their wellbeing.

Sport: Twinning project with Leicester City Football Club

Sport is a fantastic way to improve physical health and mental wellbeing and enjoy a real sense of achievement. Our twinning project with Leicester City Football Club is training people in prison in the art of the beautiful game.

It’s part of a partnership between Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and professional football clubs with the aim of twinning every prison in England and Wales with a local club. For example, Nottingham Forest is twinned with HMP Nottingham, while Leicester City is twinned with HMP Stocken. Players and coaches visit the prisons to train, coach and motivate.

Leicester City has now extended the project to Leicester probation, with sessions held at the St Margaret’s Pastures Sport Ground. People can improve their mental and physical health and obtain a qualification which will boost their chances of gaining employment.

Watch the video here to see how our service users are benefiting from this scheme. One of them reveals he has already been offered a coaching opportunity at a football pitch near his home. There is a real sense of camaraderie among the service users and it’s fantastic to see them getting involved in something so worthwhile.

Connecting with nature

We all know the benefits of getting out in the fresh air for both our mental and physical health and we have helped service users do just that. In Nottingham, we asked a local charity called AKA to take some of our service users and mentors on a hike in the Peak District, which fostered a real sense of team spirit. Another wonderful project is the Northfield Allotments in Mansfield Woodhouse, which offers the chance to get some gentle exercise and learn skills as a volunteer. Meanwhile Stonebridge City Farm in Nottingham is another great sanctuary with its vegetable gardens as well as animals.

Leisure activities

Keeping busy and learning new skills can help people feel better about themselves. The Men in Sheds project is a great place for men to get together and indulge in practical hobbies. Essentially, it’s a larger version of the traditional shed where men can share tools and resources, learn new skills, have a chat and take part in everything from woodworking to stamp collecting.

Meanwhile The Pythian Centre is aimed at getting young people to take pride in their community. There is a range of activities, including football, boxing, music, employment help and mentoring.
We have another exciting partnership project with Geese Theatre Company in Birmingham. Use of the arts is integral to our approach at Ingeus because we know how many ways art can support resettlement and rehabilitation.

Our First Act project was a pilot scheme for people with lived experience of the criminal justice system in Birmingham, using creativity to explore themes such as family, freedom, and the future. Through our partnership with Geese Theatre, participants from First Act put on an emotive and heart-warming presentation at MAC Birmingham.

This final presentation was staged following a series of workshop sessions and won much acclaim from the audience. Afterwards, the First Act participants were introduced to several members of Geese Theatre’s Staging Recovery ensemble and given the opportunity to join the group!

Practical help

As well as offering leisure activities and promoting social inclusion, we also provide practical assistance. The Padley Rehab Hub is a refuge for those who are socially isolated and at risk of homelessness in Derby. People who are referred to the hub can access showers, laundry, toilet, and if needed, emergency food parcels.

Specialist support for veterans

Anyone who has served for a day or more is classed as a veteran – and the Armed Forces Breakfast Clubs help people become part of a truly special community. Loneliness and isolation are barriers that can stand in the way of service users’ efforts to rebuild their lives. These clubs offer the chance to meet with other veterans and enjoy a chat over breakfast. Ingeus has also signed the Armed Forces Covenant to show its commitment to help and support past and present members of the forces community.

Mental health support

All of these projects are beneficial to mental health but there is another project targeted specifically at this. The Wolfpack is a friendship group for people aged 16 to 35 who are socially excluded. The aim is to reduce loneliness and promote wellbeing. People can have one-to-one sessions with trained mental health first aiders and enjoy various groups and activities in community locations.

With so much work done already, it’s been a fantastic first year for the personal wellbeing strand of our Community Rehabilitative Services. There’s still much more to come and we look forward to working with our partners to continue Enabling Better Lives.

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