Matt has had 14 previous convictions for assault and burglary, predominately within Ireland where he lived until 18 months ago. His referral came after he was released from prison with no accommodation, no NI number, and no bank account, and had just committed a further burglary from a pub on his second day after release.

Matt was released from prison without any of his belongings, and so we arranged with his probation officer to get these picked up. After encouragement, Matt also was able to work with the salvation army and gain a crash pad at YACRO hostel. Once those were sorted, we headed to the job centre to apply for his NI number. We also made three appointments with Virgin bank and the Halifax to try and open a bank account with limited ID. We gained a police letter with a photo on from the probation police, and were able to open a bank account with the Halifax. Once opened, Matt was able to get access to benefits to be able to pay his rent for YACRO. After good behaviour, YACRO moved Matt into his own room, and then into shared accommodation. Once he was settled with his own place, we arranged for Matt to gain a place onto a course called ‘Step up into construction’, which he completed for 6 weeks.

On Matt’s 5th week of college, he was called to the crown courts for the account of burglary from the pub that happened on his first week after release from prison. We accompanied Matt to court on this day, as he had nobody to support him. He showed great signs of remorse for what he had done, although living with nothing when it had happened, he understood the consequences, and arrived at prison with his belongings. Once in court, I spoke with his lawyer, and confirmed the good work he has done since with Sova, and about having one week left on his college course, and the incredible change we had seen. During the case, the judge applauded Matt for his work with Sova and warned him this is his final chance, however this time he would be receiving a sentence of 120 hours of unpaid work only, and not going back to prison.

Matt was delighted, and since then he has finished his college course, and passed his final exams, giving him a CSCS and health and safety card, and he now has two job interviews lined up! Looking to the future, we are preparing for the job interviews, and will continue to look for work until Matt reaches a happy employment. He is completing his community sentence and has been referred to another charity to complete restorative justice for his actions. Speaking with Matt, he wants this time to be the last time he offends, and this has been the first time he has taken the help offered from probation.

We have been in regular contact with probation and the police and they have heard no information about Matt since his work with Sova – he was previously at high risk of re-offending. Trying to make Matt understand that Sova were there to help him overcome his barriers, and to gain his trust was a challenge we overcame, and was a huge factor that led to the positive outcomes we achieved.

“ I wouldn’t be where I am today without Olivia, and I can’t thank her enough”