Working with Mountjoy and Arbour Hill Prisons in Dublin, Release Prison Partnership exists to provide ongoing support to people in prison and ex-offenders.
Through support from key workers, the charity assists people in and coming out of the prison system with booking health appointments, finding employment, supporting educational needs, resolving housing issues and managing their court appearances as well as linking them to relevant services to meet their individual needs. Release aims to promote independent living and improve mental health by tackling the stigma which is associated with being an offender.
Many men who go to Mountjoy prison are from backgrounds of social deprivation with around 20% coming from the traveller community; a community over represented in the prison system. Most of the prisoners they work with are Roman Catholic.
Since receiving an Allchurches Trust grant, Release has developed three teams of volunteers to deliver training in prisons as well as provide social support by contacting local organisations about employment, training and housing opportunities.
They have grown their mentoring programmes to support ex-offenders into churches and communities and have had success in inviting prisoners of faith and of none to engage with their faith-based courses. The men who enter Release’s reintegration programme have a reoffending rate of less than 5%
With assistance from the Cinnamon Network, Release plans to develop a manual which will allow other organisations to replicate their programmes and learn from their success.
“While in prison, I gave up all hope in myself – I went into a deep depression, would not interact with anyone. I was told about a charity that comes to the church in prison once a week to help prisoners…I owe them a great deal of gratitude – I would not be where I am today if not for this charity” Noel, Release Prison Partnership service user.