Direction for Bedfordshire, the dedicated, confidential signposting service which gives free advice and guidance to help those wanting to move away from crime, has received its 400th referral.
The service was first launched by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, in 2019 and consists of a website listing quality support services across the county - at https://directionforbedfordshire.co.uk/ - and a free and confidential call centre of specialist advisors, available on 0800 917 5579. The one stop shop for ex-offenders aims to support ex-offenders to change their lives upon leaving prison and break the cycle of reoffending.
Since the service was launched, the website has been viewed 11,635 times and has received 99 of the 400 referrals by telephone to its call centre. The service has been inundated with messages of thanks, with service users commenting that Direction had “helped him a lot more than anyone else had in the last 18 months” and “thanks to the staff’s commitment, this wouldn’t have happened without you”.
“For a service which has been running for less than two years, Direction has proved beyond all doubt that it's delivering a positive contribution to make Bedfordshire a safer place every day. What’s more, by providing advice to former offenders, even before they come through the HMP Bedford gates, we are giving them a far greater chance of a life outside criminality.
“I’m so pleased to see how valuable this service has been to people trying to turn their lives around. With the continued support of my office, we look forward to developing this service even further,” said Commissioner Holloway.
Direction continues to be funded by the PCC and is delivered by the Bedfordshire-based criminal justice charity, YouTurn. Staff have been working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to offer provisions remotely by setting up regular forums for partners across the county to work together in providing vital support to help turn people’s lives around.
Stuart Smith, Director for YouTurn, said: “I’m delighted with how Direction for Bedfordshire is meeting the demand, supporting local people who want to turn their lives around and reducing reoffending. I am so pleased with how bringing together over 200 agencies has enabled them to work more effectively together.
“We are developing the Direction for Bedfordshire service further to provide more intensive support to help those people in need and may not know how to access services available to them.”
The Direction website hosts a directory of all the key agencies and organisations in Bedfordshire that offer support and advice for ex-offenders, their families and friends. The website can be accessed at: https://directionforbedfordshire.co.uk/. The specialist call centre is available on 0800 917 5579, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.