The Footprints Project works with those who leave custody in South West prisons to help them transition back into the community and lead a crime free life.
Local people are recruited to mentor ex-offenders who have just come out of jail, to try and combat extreme poverty by ensuring they have food, shelter and other basics they need. Of those who reoffend, most do so within 24 hours of being released, so Footprints tries to connect with ex-offenders as soon as possible after their release. They implement a plan with the mentee and ensure they are in contact with the services they require by helping them attend appointments, ensuring they can start to focus on their future rather than their past.
Through Footprints, ex-offenders are stabilised back into the community and are focused on surviving through means that aren’t related to crime. This includes helping them manage money, rebuild stable family relationships and regain active responsibility for their children. In addition, the mentors focus on their mental and physical state, substance misuse and poor self-esteem.
Footprints are the only organisation where mentors stay in contact with their mentee for as long as it takes to achieve their planned outcomes, a relationship that has been identified as a key factor in reducing reoffending (MOJ 2013).
By helping an ex-offender settle back into the community and come away from a life of crime, the future of the offender is not only greatly improved, but the wider community will also greatly benefit, as they are far less likely to return to a life of crime if they have the support and contacts they need to reintegrate into society. Many of those who have been mentored recognise they would have very possibly returned to a life of crime had they not had the help and support of Footprints. Several ex-offenders actually go on to become mentors, meaning they can give valuable advice and speak from experience about what the mentee is going through, providing them with someone relatable and therefore increase the chances of mentoring success.