News from Shine National Women's Mentoring Service
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Welcome to the latest Shine newsletter which will provide a regular update on news and events surrounding the implementation and delivery of the Shine Women’s Mentoring Service.

It is intended not only for the information of immediate delivery and support partners, but for the wider stakeholder community, in local authorities, other third sector organisations and observers of the criminal justice world. Please feel free to circulate to colleagues.

Women Offenders: From Where I Stand

Mary Thomson, Mentor


When the Report of the Commission on Women Offenders, by Dame Elish Angiolini, was published on 17 April 2012 I had already been working as a mentor in Sacro’s Women’s Mentoring Service in Lanarkshire for almost two years. As a mentor, I was supporting women aged 16 and over who had offended to make changes to their lifestyles and reduce their chances of receiving a custodial sentence. During this time I had worked with some of the most vulnerable and damaged women in our community. Typically the women referred had experienced multiple abuse: sexual, physical and emotional. Many had issues with substance misuse and poor mental health. Almost all were on welfare benefits. When you add low educational achievement and lack of self-esteem into the equation it was no surprise that most of the women referred to our service required substantial, long term interventions to help them make changes to their lives, now and in the future.

Sometimes my work is crisis intervention e.g. helping our service users to access food banks or emergency medical treatment. At other times we work to a pre-prepared action plan and support our service users to work towards goals they have set for themselves. I established group sessions to encourage the women to get together to learn new skills and build self-esteem; these proved to be very popular. Women were regularly being identified and referred by social workers or health care professionals who might benefit from the support of a mentor to improve their lifestyle and reduce offending.

I was constantly frustrated at the imbalance between the need for support and the lack of funds to provide it. I believe that Dame Angiolini’s recommendation for more mentors directly resulted in additional funding being made available to recruit and train more mentors. Extra funding brought three new mentor posts to Lanarkshire through the Shine Mentoring project, effectively providing support for 90 more women in Lanarkshire per year. It is vital that this funding is made available long term. It would be pitiless to support a woman and then have to withdraw this support prematurely due to lack of funding. With the changes to the welfare system and welfare sanctions that we are seeing on such a regular basis, I feel that women need the support and encouragement of a mentor now, more than ever to help her navigate through crippling levels of poverty yet desist from offending.

Shine has so far received a total of 680 referrals, reaching 94% of the originally stated project target. This excellent news and can be attributed to the exceptional hard work and dedication of the mentors, SPS staff and members of the Shine PSP Programme and Project Boards.  All have worked together to find solutions and successfully overcome any challenges that the project has faced. 

Shine has seen average monthly prison referrals rise over 50% for the next reporting period, compared with the period April 2013 to October 13.  Community referrals have evened out at an average of 22 per month. 

This reflects the gradual increase towards full recruitment of the Shine mentors, which saw all 24 posts filled in March 2014. Each mentor is currently working with an average of 28 mentees over a 12 month period, which is just over 94% of the original target.
New full-time mentors covering the Scottish Borders and West Lothian are also now in place.
A new full-time Shine programme administrator has been employed concentrating on developing the Shine mentor induction pack, focusing on six-monthly data collection and streamlining the reporting process.
The Scottish Government have also agreed the Shine underspend, which will likely have a positive impact on staffing and the number of Shine mentors could increase.
Circle Scotland has seen the departure of a very experienced and valued member of Shine PSP, Marina Shaw, and Angela Curran of Barnardos South West Scotland, is due to retire. Both will be missed. Georgina Lyttle has been recruited and is now in post managing the Shine Circle mentors.
In addition to the 24 full-time mentoring posts, will recruit, train and deploy 10 volunteers per year to operate within the structure of the professional service. Importantly, this would provide an opportunity for some woman offenders to become peer mentors.
Two Shine partner agencies, with a long history of recruiting and training volunteers, have also selected new recruits. Shine Barnardos South West Scotland, recruited five peer volunteer mentors, put forward for the mentor training in April. In addition, Shine Sacro Edinburgh, working closely with the Another Way Service (another Robertson Trust funded project), have recruited eight volunteers.  They have under gone the Sacro one-day volunteer training.
Both Barnardos and Sacro are working closely to put together and establish a volunteering strategy, protocols and practice standards.
Since referrals from Shine started in October 2013 Venture Trust have worked with 27 enquiries, 19 of these have developed into full referrals and 18 of these will have been offered places on three wilderness journeys scheduled in November 2013, March 2014 and May 2014.

Most of these referrals have been made in the last quarter, showing that momentum is growing as the Shine service is established across Scotland.  Venture Trust anticipates a substantial increase in participation and referrals in the second year of the Shine service. In addition Venture Trust has supported an additional 42 referrals of women to the Next Steps programme from other criminal justice referrers. It is estimated that at least one third of these may be eligible for Shine mentoring and Venture Trust outreach workers continue to work to promote referral onwards to Shine where available and appropriate.
The outcomes for women who have participated in the Next Steps programme will be monitored over the coming 12 months.

Meet our latest mentors

First of all I’d like to say hi to everyone! I’m Sarah Bennett and I’m the new Shine Mentor for the Scottish Borders Area. Originally from Ayrshire, I moved to the Scottish Borders 10 years ago, where I met and married my husband Neil. I have two grown up children and Neil has a teenage son, so it’s a busy household, only added to by numerous pets, including two owls.

My education and background has always centred around children, most recently working within the Learning Support Department at a local Secondary School and at a local Youth Project. I am really enjoying my post as I enjoy travelling around the Borders and meeting new people. The best thing so far is knowing that – with my support – some of the clients I am working with are making positive changes to their lives.
Hi! My name is Tracy Stewart and I’m currently the new Mentor for Shine covering West Lothian. I say currently as I have been nearly in every department from Community Mediation, Intergenerational Mediation, Throughcare, The Together Project, and Amber Mediation over the past 13 years. So who knows where I will be this time next year!

Working with Shine is a new exciting project for me, as I do believe in the benefits of mentoring as this will encourage positive change and self-empowerment for the participant.

I also have an interest in working with young people from difficult backgrounds who are on the periphery of criminal justice services and looking at how best to get young people to engage with statutory/ support agencies. 

K's story. A Shine case study.

K was referred to Shine late in 2013 after expressing her desire for support in turning her life around. K’s behaviour was very chaotic and her range of charges included serious assault. K was also going to be homeless on her release from HMP Cornton Vale.

On K’s release, the Shine mentor arranged an interview with the local authority housing office to arrange temporary accommodation. During this interview, communication between K and the housing office began to break down when she was told that she was not eligible for accommodation.

The Shine mentor then facilitated dialogue between K and the Housing Office. The mentor worked with the homeless officer to successfully secure K a place at the local supported accommodation project. K would now not only have somewhere to stay, she would also be enrolled in a 12-week programme to help prepare for her own home in the future, and learn the skills she would need to successfully maintain this. When, after a month, this accommodation proved unsuited to K’s specific needs, the Shine champion secured her a place in another local supported accommodation project which provided the necessary person-centred approach to K’s development.

It was this that was to be the pivotal change for K and her life really started to change positively. She began to listen to those around her, putting plans for the future in place and looked at how she might correct certain elements of her life.  She included her mentor more and more in this planning as the relationship and trust levels grew.

The Shine mentor then discussed undertaking the Venture Trust Five-Day personal development programme with K and the benefits this could bring her. It offered the chance to increase her self-esteem, her confidence, help with decision making and problem solving skills and also gave her the opportunity to meet new people. In March 2014, K secured a place on the programme.

K’s chaotic lifestyle meant that she was no longer in contact with her daughter. She decided that due to all the changes she had made, including a voluntary reduction in her prescribed medication, that she would like to try and re-establish contact with her child. The Shine champion contacted K’s daughter’s social worker and informed them of all the work K had done to improve her situation and change her life.  Impressed, Social Work agreed that if K continued on her current path, they would consider setting up supervised visits.The Shine mentor maintained contact with K while she was on the programme to check how she was doing. After completing her course, K stated that it was, “the best thing I have done in years”. She had put together a “life plan” spanning three to six months which included voluntary work and college courses, contact with her daughter and keeping her own tenancy. As a result, a supervised visit was arranged between K and her daughter. This was their first contact in over two years. The Shine mentor credited this to all K’s hard work, to which K replied, “no, it is all down to you and you believing in me.” The supervised visit went exceptionally well and monthly visits were agreed and set up from there. It was agreed that if progress continued, full-day fortnightly visits would be confirmed.

The Shine mentor believes that being mentored and treated in a non-judgmental way, and being given the chance to change and be supported with this choice, has been key to K making the positive decisions that led to her moving away from a life of offending and believing in the rewards of leading a positive life. K now firmly believes that, while things in life can be hard, taking the time to do things slowly and thoroughly and working on her issues one at a time, has really helped change her life.

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