Yorkshire Post – Conference to mark youth crime charity’s anniversay
Conference to mark youth crime charity’s anniversary
A PIONEERING charity that has helped steer millions of young people away from a life of crime will celebrate its 20th anniversary today with a conference in its home city of Hull.
Chaired by historian and broadcaster Dan Snow, members of Prison Me No Way! will gather at the KC Stadium with representatives of its partner agencies and some of the young people it has worked with.
The charity was formed by three Hull prison officers in April 1993 who were concerned about the number of young people being sent to jail, and now works across the UK and Jersey, and is expected to establish a project in the Cayman Islands later this year.
Led by its core team of just 28 employees, the charity works with about 100,000 children and young people each year from a budget of less than £500,000.
Co-founder Paul Wilkinson, now the charity’s chief executive, said he decided to try a new approach to tackling youth offending while working at Moorlands Young Offenders’ Institution near Doncaster.
“It was the first time I’d worked with young offenders,” he said. “And listening to some of the reasons why they were there, it was heart-wrenching, and I just felt I wanted to do something to prevent other young people following in their footsteps.”
Part of the key to its success has been the trust and rapport it is able to establish with young people through a range of projects, from showing them the harsh realities of life in a cell to staging “trials” with volunteers from the legal profession, and it is this which has enabled the charity to enlist support and input from organisations such as CO19, the Metropolitan Police’s specialist armed unit.
Paul Robinson, Humberside Police’s Deputy Crime Commissioner, who will be among the speakers today, said: “When you are talking to young people about the consequences of crime, the most important thing is not what the message is but who delivers it.
“Prison Me No Way! offers young people an interactive experience to find out the harsh realities of prison life, from those who have worked there to hearing first-hand from serving prisoners who tell it like it is, encouraging young people not to make the same mistakes they did.
“It’s an excellent example of youth engagement.”