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News 9 June 2021

Reach Out service judged ‘notable positive practice’ by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Forward’s online chat service, Reach Out, was praised by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMCIP) following an inspection of HMP High Down in March and April 2021.

Reach Out was launched in May 2020 to provide advice, support and reassurance to people affected by or concerned about drugs, alcohol and related issues. Operated by a team of specially-trained staff and volunteers, the service has helped over 3,000 people.

In a report following its inspection, HMPCIP said of Reach Out:

The Forward Trust had set up an online chat service for prisoners on release and their families who had concerns about drugs and alcohol or housing and benefit needs. This was a positive initiative.

HMCIP defines ‘notable positive practice’ as:

Innovative practice or practice that leads to particularly good outcomes from which other establishments may be able to learn. Inspectors look for evidence of good outcomes for prisoners; original, creative or particularly effective approaches to problem-solving or achieving the desired goal; and how other establishments could learn from or replicate the practice.

One of only two examples noted by HMCIP in its report, it is welcome recognition of the important work carried out by the Reach Out team, as well as the value of innovative digital services for supporting prison leavers and their families.

Forward also provides substance misuse, careers advice (IAG) and family services at HMP High Down.

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Honestly I cannot thank you enough, I feel so much better just talking this out with you today

Reach Out client