West Yorkshire Community Chaplaincy Project

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WYCCP is a resettlement organisation which aims to reduce re-offending and contribute to building safer communities in Leeds and across West Yorkshire. 

WYCCP is distinctive in a number of ways:

  • We are a ‘through the gate’ organisation; we work with offenders both inside HMP Leeds and post release, we liaise with both the CRC and NPS.
  • We are located directly opposite the gates of HMP Leeds in MOJ accommodation and have close links within the prison. Team members draw keys and directly access men on the wings.
  • We use volunteers – volunteer link workers – to support ex-prisoners in the community. We offer a comprehensive training programme and support structure to our volunteers.
  • We do not cherry pick our service users and work with men regardless of their offence*
  • We are highly professional in our delivery and undertake rigorous risk assessment of both service users and activities.
  • WYCCP is a multi-faith organisation, initially envisaged by members of the multi faith Chaplaincy in HMP Leeds; we have links with faith communities and seek to engage them in resettlement activities.

WYCCP has nearly ten years’ experience of working with men leaving prison and has satisfactorily delivered work funded by The Big Lottery, Lloyds TSB, Henry Smith Charity and a range of small charities as well as being contracted to deliver resettlement work by HMP Wealstun.

Using highly trained volunteers to support ex- prisoners in the community increases our capacity and flexibility.   We are currently working at reduced capacity with two key workers; during this period we have been working with 67 men; 19 of these intensively.  Each key worker has the capacity to maintain a case load of around 15 service users.

Resettlement workers visit offenders – service users – for assessment and action planning prior to their release from prison.  They meet them on release with a volunteer link worker, and then staff and volunteers continue to offer advice, support and signposting as appropriate during the critical weeks and months after release in the areas identified by the service user as significant to them in maintaining a crime-free life.

This support could include accompanying service users to appointments; for example for psychiatric assessments or interviews with housing providers; assistance in completing benefits forms; liaising with statutory agencies; for example the CRC/NPS or the NHS on behalf of service users; and giving advice and support in accessing training and employment.  This is done in close partnership with any other voluntary community and public sector bodies involved in the service user’s resettlement.  At full capacity we were working with around 300 men a year.

WYCCP is doing well; we have excellent success rates, based on over 4 years monitoring figures we expect that 73% of the men we have worked with significantly will not have returned to prison one year from release.

WYCCP was established in 2005, is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity, and was initially largely funded by the Invest to Save Budget (ISB), a joint Treasury/Cabinet Office initiative.  We are currently funded by the J Paul Getty Jnr Trust, the Henry Smith Charity and AllChurches Trust.

*with the exception of sex-offenders.

West Yorkshire Community Chaplaincy Organisation, c/o HMP Leeds, 2 Gloucester Terrace, Leeds LS12 2TJ

Tel (0113) 3874580 | www.wyccp.org.uk

A year with WYCCP by Edward Butler

EddieThis year has got to be one of the best years I’ve had in a long long time. I am 57 years old and I’ve been on drugs since I was 18. I first met Oliver (WYCCP key worker) on F wing when I was serving six months for shoplifting to fund my habit – I had been on the streets since my mother died three years ago.

I had lost all my self-respect; in fact, I didn’t like myself much at all and a lot of my family, I believe, felt the same. I agreed to start going to WYCCP thinking that all they were going to do was tell me how bad drugs are and how they screw up your life, but they didn’t say anything like that at all because they knew that I already knew that. I met Jeni, who became my regular link worker and she actually helped me get my self-respect back.

This year has been incredible. I’ve done things I didn’t think were possible. At WYCCP, they know how to talk to people on the phone, how to get me things I am entitled to. I could never do that because the social, water board, electricity board – in fact, everyone – would always treat me like a fool and try to get rid of me ASAP. When WYCCP spoke to them, they all started to do their jobs correctly.

I could never repay WYCCP for what they’ve done for me, even all my family think that WYCCP, Oliver and Jeni have been the best things in my life for a very long time. How WYCCP found me I do not know, but thank God they did because I really believe I would have been dead or back in prison without a doubt.

Just a few of the things WYCCP have done for me this year: glasses, teeth, a home, self-respect, and respect from all of my family, employment support allowance, treatment for my hepatitis C and my chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, personal independence payment, and a bus pass.

It was everything I was entitled to but I didn’t know about it at all. I’m on a regular script but I have slipped up and used drugs a few times. When I told Jeni I expected to be told off, but no, she told me that I was only human and made me believe it and that made me feel good about myself.

Every time I tried to thank the guys at WYCCP they wouldn’t take any of it, they said it was me who needed a pat on the back for doing so well. All I did was visit WYCCP once a week and take my mail. If I had a problem I would text Oliver and he would phone me back – all of my problems were tackled ASAP by Oliver or Jeni. They have become more like friends then workers, I didn’t know people like these existed.

Why every jail in the country doesn’t have a WYCCP I just don’t know. It really is hard to describe what WYCCP do for people like me. I am so glad and grateful they came into my life when they did.

I know I am going to lose Jeni who has been my link worker all year but I wish her the very best in whatever she does in the future and I hope she has learned as much from me as I have from her. She is a bright and very intelligent lady and I will miss her so much. It doesn’t seem fair that all she has done for me she has done for free and in her own time, so I must thank her from the bottom of my heart. For every phone call she did for me, every letter she wrote, every chat we had, even every cup of tea and biscuit, but most of all every goal she has helped me achieve.

There are thousands of people in jails all over this country who get freed not knowing what they are entitled to or how to go about getting it, so most go back to crime because it can be easier to commit crime for money rather than get on the phone to the social to get what they are entitled to, so that’s why the guys are crucial at WYCCP. I truly believe that they more people there are that can do what WYCCP do for ex-offenders like me a lot less crime would be committed.

I did notice that Oliver and Jeni spent a lot of time on the phone just telling people how to do their jobs correctly – it sounds stupid but it is so true. I know because I’ve talked to these sort of people who just want to get rid of people like me, but when anyone from WYCCP talks to them, they seem to listen and get things done. So thank you WYCCP for everything you have done and are still doing for me.

Edward Butler December 2014

Eddie was happy to be identified in this.

By |Health & Care, Older People
2017-02-06T13:40:21+00:00 3rd March 2016|Comments Off on West Yorkshire Community Chaplaincy Project

About the Author:

Sean Tunnicliffe
Sean is the communications Officer at Leeds Older People’s Forum (LOPF) and also deals with admin and office management. He enjoys the wide variety of his role which covers things like designing reports and documents, organising meetings, putting together ebulletins, writing blogs, updating the LOPF website and social media and making sure that the office never runs out of milk. He has worked in the third sector since 2001 first with Volition and then LOPF and is the longest serving member of the Forum Central team. Previous to this Sean had mainly worked in horticulture and also had a spell managing a newsagent shop.