Turning Proceeds of Crime into something good

1st May 2024

Since 2014 we have been managing the Essex Police Proceeds of Crime Matched Funding Scheme (POCA).  Under the Scheme, all donations into the High Sheriff’s Fund or to set up individual charitable funds, can be matched with 50% from the monies we receive from Essex Police Proceeds of Crime.  The only restriction is that the grantmaking from these Funds must support projects or organisations whose work is contributing to community safety in the county.

To date, the value of the endowed funds set up with support from the matched funding scheme is £1.2 million.

Below are local charities that have received support from the Funds set up with matched funding:

Volunteering Matters is a national organisation that works with local partners to bring people together to overcome society’s most complex issues and build stronger communities through the power of volunteering. They enable volunteers to use their local knowledge and life experiences to make a real difference and run a wide range of volunteering programmes and projects to help them do just that.  They have over 150 volunteer-led projects that help reduce social isolation and loneliness, build skills, confidence and opportunity, improve mental and physical health and make sure young people can lead change.

For over 20 years across Essex, they have been running volunteer-led projects supporting vulnerable families to improve the quality of family life, empowering young women and girls to create social change in issues facing their communities including exploitation and violence, and enabling disabled people to become more active in their community.

Over 10,000 young people leave the care system each year and around 25% of young people aged 16-24 leaving care at age 18, fall into homelessness or the prison system.

In 2023, Volunteering Matters piloted a new Grandmentors programme in Southend-on-Sea, recruiting and training volunteer mentors, who draw on their personal and professional experience to guide young people leaving care.  This intergenerational project will help the young people to address the challenges and choices they face on their journey to independence.

We supported this programme with a grant of £3,000.  The funding came from the Jack Elliot Fund and the Leeze Charitable fund both of which were set up with matched funding from the Proceeds of Crime Scheme managed by ECF.

Young people are referred on to the programme by Southend-on-Sea City Council’s Leaving Care Team.  Once referred, Volunteering Matters match them with a Grandmentor who has the skills and expertise to help them achieve their goals and expectations in the career or work areas they are interested in.  Whenever possible, the young person will be given the opportunity to choose their mentor, and this is achieved by attending ‘soft matching’ social events including cookery classes and sports activities.  These events cultivate an environment where the young people can be their authentic selves, build self-esteem and bond with each other and individual mentors.  It cannot be understated how important inclusivity and mutual respect are to the young people in this programme and this aids their personal growth for a brighter future.

Once matched, the mentoring is flexible and ranges from meeting once a week for a period of six to 18 months.

With so many young people leaving the care system each year, Volunteering Matters are eager to expand their service further throughout Essex.  Support from ECF and its POCA Fundholders, has enabled them to start this work, with new mentors already going into Chelmsford schools.

Jade Anglish, Engagement Manager for the Southend Grandmentors programme said: ” Young people leaving care are often vulnerable and can be at risk of being targeted by criminals who will try to draw them into a life of crime.

“Our volunteer mentors are usually age 50 and above and they use their knowledge and life experiences to provide the young people with emotional and practical support, a listening ear and someone they can turn to on their journey to independence.”.

Feedback from a Young Person taking part in the programme

“Having someone else apart from your social worker helping you to deal with your problems is fantastic and being able to get support from someone who has been living here for a long time feels amazing”

Feedback from Mentor

“Volunteering is very rewarding for both the mentor and mentee and you do feel you are making a difference. For me I think building the trust with these young people is crucial and sometimes it is about listening and giving practical advice and support on things in life”

For more information please visit Grandmentors Volunteer (Southend) – Volunteering Matters or email Grandmentors.Southend@volunteeringmatters.org.uk

 

Ormiston Families work across Essex supporting those affected by the imprisonment of a family member. (Pictured are staff introducing Dylan, an animated charcter, who helps to explain prison visits to children).

They received £4,000 from the Leeze Charitable Fund which was set up with support from the POCA Scheme.   The funding was to help with the staff costs associated with their prison outreach service called Breaking Barriers.

Through the Breaking Barriers programme, Ormiston Families provides free and non-judgemental support to children throughout Essex with a family member in prison.  It is an early intervention initiative, designed around the principle of working “with families” rather than “for families”.

To create lasting change in the lives of the children they help, Ormiston Families prioritise building trust with the children, sharing access to crucial services, and supporting parents on their journey. Through this, not only do the children experience greater mental wellbeing, but they are guided away from the cycle of intergenerational offending, and to achieving their own goals.

Thanks to the group’s efforts, children like Archie learn that the actions of their parent do not define their future. When his dad was placed in prison, Archie displayed troublesome behaviour at school and began isolating in his room.  His Breaking Barriers practitioner was able to explore with him how he felt, how to use coping mechanisms and how to communicate this at school so that he could receive additional day-to-day support.

In Archie’s own words, “It was good to have someone to talk to, to help me not misbehave”.  His new school have noticed an incredible change in Archie which would not have been possible without the help of Ormiston Families.

Ormiston Families work hard to amend the second-hand effects of a parent in prison by:

  • administering more than 24,000 support sessions,
  • bringing more than 59,000 visitors to their loved ones in prison, and
  • helping more than 80% of their clients to feel safer, healthier and better able to cope with their situation.

Off the Streets, based in Southend, received £2,500 from the River City Fund, which was set up with support from the Proceeds of Match Funding Scheme (POCA).

The funding supported the operational costs of the organisation which supports rough sleepers getting into independent living, as well as helping with issues that might contribute to becoming homeless, such as drug, alcohol and gambling addiction.

Homelessness is a complex issue, rarely seen in isolation, and Off the Streets takes this understanding into their outreach work. They treat every person as an individual, deserving of dignity, honesty and sympathy, no matter what circumstances may have led to them becoming homeless.  Once the person enters the shelter in Southend, the organisation immediately starts to build a trusting relationship and find them permanent housing, so that the journey never loses momentum.

Over a period of 106 weeks, the team were able to get 97 people out of rough sleeping and into more permanent accommodation. One of the individuals who received this help had been without fixed accommodation for a decade.  In addition, they helped 21 people find jobs to support themselves.  The impact of the team’s work is noticeable and is greatly appreciated by those who stop at the shelter.

Thanks to support from ECF and other funders, Off the Streets can continue its vital work, handing out more meal parcels, bringing more cases to local agencies to get people into accommodation, and providing more advice to those in need of mental health support.

These volunteers provide so much to the vulnerable rough sleepers of Southend.

Read more stories here:

Cara (Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse) is based in Colchester, and provides support to children and young people who have experienced sexual violence or child sexual abuse.

Next Chapter, founded in Colchester, is a domestic abuse charity providing a refuge (including a nursery) and outreach community-based services across North and Mid-Essex.

Children Heard and Seen (CHAS) provide online support groups to children in Essex who have a parent in prison.