By MARIA MILOVA
This past semester I got the opportunity to go on a trip to HMYOI Werrington through the Unbarred project. As a Politics student who has always been interested in learning more about the law and more specifically the criminal justice system, I saw the Unbarred project as a very unique opportunity to help many young people who felt like they had lost control over their own lives.
The presentation we gave informed the young offenders, who were all between 15 and 18 years old, of prospects after release and more specifically how and where they could gain employment upon leaving prison. Most importantly, the presentations provided the offenders with legal information about disclosure periods as stated under the Rehabilitation Act.
In preparing for and attending the trip, it became clear to me what a great difference such projects make in these people’s career prospects and futures. This is especially true for young offenders, as many of them are completely unaware of the obligatory disclosure periods and are often sent back to prison just months after release for reoffending. For these reasons, I feel proud to have been a part of an organisation that ensures these young people are in the best position to approach society and the employment market upon release. The few hours I spent talking to some of the prisoners made me understand how meaningful the project is and what a great impact a short presentation can make. While the trip itself was a challenging experience, it was also very eye-opening; I learnt a lot about how to approach unexpected situations and how to handle myself while thinking on my feet. We left the prison knowing that our visit had allowed at least a few of the young men feel a bit more confident, knowledgable and positive about life and employment after release.