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Funding provides employment and housing support to ex-offenders across the Thames Valley

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has awarded Aspire £154,000 to support its ‘Through the Gate’ programme to expand and provide additional employment support as well as housing support to ex-offenders across the Thames Valley.

The employment charity and social enterprise has operated a ‘Through the Gate’ programme in Oxfordshire for four years and provides holistic support for both people in custody and ex-offenders in the community. 

The £154,000 funding is for a one-year period and forms part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s work to tackle re-offending, exploitation and violence. It has enabled Aspire to expand its’ ‘Through the Gate’ programme further into Buckinghamshire, providing ex-offenders with specialist employment support and links to employers in Milton Keynes and High Wycombe, and for the first time into Berkshire.

Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “I am pleased to provide funding to support Aspire’s ‘Through the Gate’ programme.

“As a well-established and successful service, which has a positive impact on the lives of ex-offenders and helps prevent re-offending, I am pleased to be able to fund the provision to support its extension and increased opportunities for ex-offenders. Tackling re-offending in this positive way enables communities to be safer places.

“If we can cut down on reoffending, by those released from custodial sentences, crime would drop dramatically. The savings to the police, the prison service and the public, would be considerable. I look forward to hearing more about the results of Aspire’s work in the near future.”

The programme works with ex-offenders to help them gain employment by providing support such as CV writing and interview skills workshops, training and work experience on Aspire’s own enterprise businesses. They also work with local employers to encourage and support them in recruiting ex-offenders.

Referrals into the programme are made through bail hostels, probation services and prisons (Bullingdon and Springhill prisons in Oxfordshire and Woodhill prison in Buckinghamshire). 

Paul Roberts, Chief Executive Officer at Aspire, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to expand our ‘Through the Gate’ service in Buckinghamshire and into Berkshire. Supporting more ex-offenders to move towards and into employment will help reduce re-offending across the Thames Valley.”

Aspire has also recently benefitted from the Police Property Act Fund, supporting the delivery of three specialist Family Links parenting courses to ex-offenders. These courses are designed to support parents, who are ex-offenders, to manage their feelings and behaviour while becoming more positive and nurturing in relationships with their children.