Finalist category: Community Impact Award
Peer Assist is a new digital platform developed to extend the reach of St Giles Trust services to ex-offenders and their families across the UK. High re-offending rates cost the UK taxpayer £3.8 billion a year and prisoners often leave prison unsupported, with no job and nowhere to live. St Giles Trust helps to tackle that by providing support to over 15,000 people each year in prisons and the local community.
The project is run by former offenders and uses multi-channel support services, including Freephone helplines and interactive online services, helping to break the cycle of re-offending, poverty, homelessness and unemployment. Some of the Peer Assist volunteers – ‘Peer Advisors’ – receive training while they are still serving prisoners, enhancing their digital skills and employability prospects when they leave prison.
The programme launched in February 2015. A dedicated online facility operated for and by ex-offenders has never been tried before. In just two months they have received 3,500 calls, and trained 11 Peer Advisors in London. Over the next three years they want to enable twice as many clients to access their services across the UK, helping 30,000 people annually, and in time they want Peer Assist to be available to all prisons in England and Wales.
Visit the St Giles Trust website for more information about their work.