This edition of Pulse presents Connections, Forward’s new range of services that support service users’ relationships both in prison and in the community.
Along with employment and housing, ongoing contact with a partner or family member is a crucial factor in reducing reoffending and in supporting recovery for those with substance dependence.
At Forward we have been supporting the family relationships of service users for over 10 years, with a structured family work approach in place for the last five years. We have supported over 2,500 service users in prison and the community, and over 1,000 family members and friends during this time.
All service users are asked about their family relationships as part of their assessment. They are then referred to specialist family workers, relevant programmes run by our recovery workers, or signposted to support delivered by other specialist organisations.
Our family work has a proven impact on the lives of service users and their loved ones. Participants in our structured, eight session, Family Ties programme reported three key benefits –
1) Improvements in their confidence in expressing their needs to their families
2) Feeling more able to talk to their families about personal challenges and difficult subject matter
3) Stronger ability to offer support to their families.
We also recognise the importance of service users’ relationships with peer role models and networks of support who offer motivation and inspiration (key enables in our Theory of Change). This human support is essential at key stages of the journey to recovery and rehabilitation, such as the first night in prison or day of release, or in providing confidence to find and keep a job.
Building on our existing services and our ethos, Forward’s new Connections service aims to build positive identity and healthy productive relationships for service users in all walks of life – with peers in recovery and rehabilitation, with family, friends, employers and the wider world.