- The Digital Poverty Alliance and Intel in partnership with Trailblazers Mentoring Charity will provide devices and mentoring for young ex-offenders
- Intel are providing $150,000 funding for the scheme which aims to equip beneficiaries with the tech skills and support they need to access greater work opportunities
- The ultimate aim is to reduce re-offending rates and support ex-offenders’ with employment opportunities and life skills
The Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA) and Intel have partnered to launch a proof-of-concept initiative to provide young men being released from prison with the digital skills and access they need to access employment opportunities and support their ongoing development.
The Tech4PrisonLeavers programme will tackle multiple determinants of digital poverty, by providing devices, connectivity, skills, and mentoring to a priority group of 20-25 people leaving HMP & YOI (Young Offenders Institution) at Brinsford prison in Wolverhampton, aged between 18-25. It will be delivered via Trailblazers Mentoring, a charity that works with young men who are in prison and who provide intensive support ‘through the gate’ into their community.
Digital poverty, defined as the inability to interact with the online world fully, when, where and how an individual needs to, has been identified as a significant issue among young men, with a recent HM inspectorate report showing that 4 out of 10 young men being released from prison in the community do not have access to education or training and 47% do not have access to the internet.
This pilot scheme, made possible through funding of $150,000 from Intel, will support and evaluate the lives of young people for the first year after leaving prison, with evaluation by the Institute for Community Research and Development at the University of Wolverhampton. At the end of the pilot, the DPA will prepare a white paper which will be shared with the Government to demonstrate the impact of addressing digital poverty on re-offending rates and assess the potential to scale the proof of concept to a wider pilot or roll out in the future.
Elizabeth Anderson, the chief operating officer at Digital Poverty Alliance, said: “There are currently 6,500 people who leave prison every year. The re-offending rate for young people in the 18-25 age bracket is 38.4% (MOJ, Oct, 2020). We believe that by tackling digital poverty among this cohort we can help people get back on their feet and move forwards. We are proud to partner with Trailblazers to offer support to this group of young people.”
Amanda Hughes, Governor HMP & YOI Brinsford, said: “Our priority is to successfully resettle young adults in the best possible way to prevent further reoffending. Digital technology is a key part of day-to-day living, it is important that this group are not left behind. This is an excellent initiative that we are delighted to be part of.”
Paul Finnis, CEO of Digital Poverty Alliance, said: “According to a 2019 MoJ report, there is a £18bn annual cost to the UK in re-offending rates. Our aim is not only to help these young ex-offenders but also reduce the financial burden on the UK through a reduction in reoffending rates and associated costs.”
Julia Alexander, Acting CEO Trailblazers, said: “We mentor young offenders between 18-30 years of age and provide intensive weekly mentoring support delivered by trained volunteers 3-6 months prior to being released from prison. This project will allow us to continue offering ‘through the gate’ support and ongoing practical support and volunteer mentoring in the community for up to 12 months post-release. We already saw in our previous work that reoffending rate of Trailblazers mentees is 8% within 1 year of release and 10% within 2 years, versus a national rate of 25.7% in the first year of release for male offenders.”