This research was commissioned by You’re Equal Ltd., a partnership organisation of community and voluntary groups, local development organisations and statutory agencies. It is funded in the main by the European Social Fund through the EQUAL Programme. All of these groups are working together with the shared objective of removing barriers to employment for ex-prisoners and stimulating and supporting labour market activity. The objective of this research project was to evaluate the work of the You’re Equal Project, while working with prisoners, pre- and post-release, in helping them in their efforts to seek and secure employment. Rather than simply measuring the success of this project based on the number of participants who successfully secured employment, this study seeks to explore the deeper issues associated with prisoners and ex-prisoners’ efforts to become employable. This issue of participants’ employability will be considered in relation to the barriers and supports that affect ex-prisoners’ ability to engage in work on their release. The aims of the research were to evaluate: the macro elements involved in creating and sustaining the multiagency and multidisciplinary collaboration central to the You‘re Equal Project; the micro elements involved in the mentoring work. Research process This research has provided a forum for prisoners and ex-prisoners to tell their stories of involvement with the You’re Equal Project. International research highlights the enormous challenge faced by ex-prisoners in joining the labour market. Hagell et al (1995) agree with most penologists in stating that ‘release from prison is likely to be a traumatic event, particularly if the sentence was long, and it will also be a time of dramatic change – living circumstances on the outside may have changed, family structures may have changed, prisoners themselves may have undergone a range of different experiences that may affect them and their relationships with others’. Without sufficient support upon release, the cycle of release and re-arrest can become increasingly difficult to break. Thus, the You’re Equal Project has identified the need to bridge the gap between pre- and post-release services in order to provide an element of throughcare to ex-prisoners. Over the first 18 months of this project (June 2006 – December 2007), the mentors have worked with a total of 98 participants in equal numbers at both Cork and Castlerea Prisons.
|Publication status||Published - 2009|