Giving something back
- Credit: Archant
Lynne Mortimer meets Catch 22 organisers Sam, Sarah and Louise.
“I have really enjoyed working at the church and giving something back to the community,” said one young person.
If you walk by Quay Street in Woodbridge, you may notice that the church has had its car park surfaced and its grounds and graveyard tidied.
How did that happen?
It was all carried out under the auspices of Catch22, Suffolk Reparation and Unpaid Work Service. Reparation? Yes, the work has been done by young people who have, in a brush with the law, been ordered to give back to the community. In the process they learn new skills and get to meet people who genuinely want to see them get on in life.
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Judging by the task they were confronted with at Woodbridge Quay Church, it was no soft option.
At the church to take a look the improvements so far, I meet Catch 22’s Sam Broomfield, Sarah Keeble and Louise Barnett. Sam is based in the Ipswich area and Sarah runs the administration side of the operation, Louise is Suffolk Service Co-ordinator.
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Sam, Sarah and Louise bring a wealth of experience to their roles. Sam came to Catch 22 from retail work. She likes to see the young people find fulfilment in what they do. “It’s rewarding for them, especially when we have people from the church say, ‘thank you’ and tell them they have done a good job.”
Sam says: “We look at what work (the young people) can do and how long they can concentrate. We aim for about four hours at a time. Within six months they have to do everything on their order.”
The Quay church project involves 10-18 year olds and the state of the car park, says Sam, caused a few jaws to drop when they first saw it but it has now been totally transformed. “The young people could see the change that had come about from what they had done. Some of them loved (the work) so much they asked for extra hours.”
Louise, who originally started out as a volunteer for the organisation, says she has been able to provide a reference for one young person who had applied for a job with his local council, and Sam is thrilled that one of her young people had started their own business.
This is another arm to their work, being able to offer support beyond the immediate confines of the order.
Sam says: “This sort of success story makes the work of Catch22 worthwhile... “To see how proud (the young people) are of what they have achieved.”
Sarah worked in pest control administration for 18 years before leaving to have a baby. “I wanted to go back into something different.”
The three women acknowledge that, alongside the successes, there are sometimes the failures. Some young people will offend again, others find it hard to accept that they must make reparation for what they did. But, as Louise, Sam and Sarah point out, no one said it would be easy. But, when it does work out well, it makes it all the sweeter.
“Reparation and my Catch 22 worker has helped me loads and I have learnt new skills and given back to the community.” said one young person determined to turn their life around.
Catch 22 (www.catch-22.org.uk) is a not-for-profit organisation with a social mission and a vision for the future, which is to achieve “a strong society where everyone has a good place to live, a purpose and good people around them.”
They recognise it is a lofty aim but they take it a day at a time. It is overseen with firmness and understanding. They can see that the children and young adults they work with have the chance of a good life and Catch 22 wants to to feel able to seize that chance.
Reparation and Unpaid hours can be completed indirectly in the community, or directly with the victim. Reparation is an activity given to young people in custody who are subject to a court order. The activities are intended to “repair the harm” and to give something back to the community.
But it does not end with a car park or a tidy graveyard, as Louise explains: “We also provide young people with information about their options regarding further education, work or training. Our Passport for Independence service acts as a gateway qualification, a Suffolk County Council quality-assured accreditation.”
The Catch 22 mentoring service is available to young people who may have offended and who find themselves in difficult situations. They are supported by volunteers to:
n remain in education
n progress into training or further education
n improve relationships with the local community
n access local activities to improve health and well-being
n build confidence and self-esteem
Mentors are matched to young people depending on what the young person needs help with and the volunteer mentor’s own strengths and experiences.
All mentors are fully trained volunteers. They are:
n Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds
n Honest, reliable and positive role models
n Friendly and flexible, with a real belief that the young person can achieve their goals
n Non-judgemental, encouraging and understanding
Mentors are there to listen and to offer advice when asked, helping young people to make plans for their future. They help young people to find and engage with new activities and provide a constant source of support within a trusted relationship.