Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit

The Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) commissioned Magistra to deliver their Restorative Lives project in Hindley Prison as part of the VRU’s work to reduce reoffending among young people and build aspirations.

94 men, primarily under the age of 25, have successfully completed the programme, aimed at individuals who want to make changes to their behaviour and gain greater control over their lives.

The programme involves delivery of Magistra’s early engagement, restorative practice Life Skills interventions, including the Lifeboat programme which focuses on attitudes and community identity, Restoring Minds focusing on emotional management, and Connect focusing on the impact of imprisonment on family relationships.

Of the 94 men that completed the programme, 65% had a neurodivergent diagnosis including Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and Tourette’s Syndrome, and the majority had not previously engaged in any activity or support services.

Magistra’s programmes use trauma-informed, early engagement and restorative approaches, which encourage prisoners to evaluate their own personal circumstances and improve their confidence to seek available support.

On completion of the programme, 90% of participants went on to engage with their Offender Managers and applied for education and employment opportunities and other support services introduced to them. None of the men engaged in any further violent incidents at the prison.

Sushma Parmar, Probation Lead, Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit, said: “Evidence suggests that many violent offenders in custody continue their violence in the prison environment and without appropriate interventions are likely to resume violent behaviour in the community on release.

“Magistra were therefore commissioned to worked with the HMP Hindley Safer Custody Team to identify and refer young adults from Greater Manchester convicted of violent offences to the Restorative Lives project.

“We are thrilled to see the programme had such a huge impact on the men that took part in achieving their personal goals and moving away from reoffending.”

Margaret Adams, Director, Magistra, said: “Greater Manchester VRU’s investment in the Restorative Lives project in custody has delivered positive outcomes both for individuals, prisons and the community by breaking cycles of violence among participants of the project.

“Having successfully completed one programme, Lifeboat, the majority self-referred to the other two programmes, Connect and Restoring Minds, which shows a fantastic increase in engagement.”

Victoria Belshaw, Head of Reducing Reoffending, HMPYOI Hindley, said: “The Magistra courses have proved an excellent addition to our delivery of interventions at Hindley. They have engaged men who previously have struggled to engage in any meaningful activity. The facilitators have an amazing ability to get the best out of the men and enable them to see how their lives could be different in the future.

“We have received really positive feedback from the men attending the groups and some have wanted to complete all of the courses available to support their own progression. Magistra have always ensured that the men are signposted to additional support networks following completion of the courses.

“These courses have had a real impact in the prison so thank you to Magistra and to the Greater Manchester VRU.”

A participant on the programme, said: “This course has made me start doing things differently for myself. I now take a step back when I speak to family as I understand their perspective and can be more sympathetic. I understand the bigger picture and don’t just react.”

At the end of the programme, a Connect Family Workshop was held and attended by over 20 family members of men who had completed the programme.

Magistra Group delivers training and consultancy services to public, private and third sector organisations across criminal justice and social sectors, and restorative practice interventions.

In line with restorative practice, all referrals to Magistra’s interventions as part of this project are voluntary, empowering individuals to take responsibility for their own rehabilitation and contribute to a reduction in violent offending.

Article posted on: 26/05/2023 11:05am

Skip to content