Sova Herts Mentoring Project wins High Sheriff Award
Sova Herts Mentoring project has come out tops in the county’s High Sheriff’s Crime Beat Awards. Beating off six other shortlisted local rivals the project, run by national charity Sova, was recognised for its work in helping people to make better choices and steer clear of crime.
Contracted by Hertfordshire Probation Trust, Sova Herts Mentoring project supports offenders on community sentences providing practical advice to help them build stability, gain confidence and improve their chances of leading a crime free life. Project manager Sharon Ahmad explains: “At the Sova Hertfordshire Mentoring Project we recruit, train and support volunteers from the local community to mentor offenders who are on probation.
“Each mentor is matched with someone who needs support and encouragement to steer clear of crime. Our mentors help people to change their lives for the better in all sorts of ways. It could be help with finding a job, like explaining how to put together a CV and prepare for an interview, or getting new skills and qualifications. Sometimes it’s dealing with everyday issues like housing, relationships, managing money and benefits, or it could be just going along to an appointment or being around for a chat.
“Many of our volunteers are what we call peer mentors, people who are ex-offenders themselves. Our peer mentors have a keen understanding of the challenges people face when they are trying to stay out of trouble and rebuild their lives and they understand what helps. Not only that, they act as great role models because they’ve changed their lives and now they are making a positive difference in someone else’s life.”
The High Sheriff’s Beat Crime Awards judging panel recognised the success of the project in reducing reoffending, but it was the work of the peer mentors that really stood out for them. The Award citation said: “Although we admired the quality of work undertaken by the volunteers for the offenders, we were even more impressed by what some of the volunteers have achieved in themselves. The training they receive and the experience they gain have often been very significant in improving their own life chances and employment prospects.”
The Sova Herts Mentoring project will now go on to represent the county in the national High Sheriff Awards later this year. Ms Ahmad says: “We’re really proud of our achievements and excited about going forward to the national awards. This award is a real recognition of all the hard work of the Sova Herts team, both staff and volunteers.”