RECOOP LAUNCH - PRESS RELEASE
RECOOP launch to help offenders and ex-offenders throughout the UK
RECOOP is a new charity which promotes the care, resettlement and rehabilitation of offenders and ex-offenders, in particular those over the age of 50, throughout the UK. The charity, which is now part of the BCHA family, offers care and support to help people take control of their own lives and remain free from offending, preventing them from becoming socially excluded.
Older people often do not access services in prison, and consequently leave prison with little support in the key areas of resettlement. Therefore, support offered by the charity includes mentoring on issues such as employment and training, and advice on housing and health.
RECOOP also work hard to raise awareness of the needs of older offenders and advise and support staff who work in the criminal justice system with these people. RECOOP currently provide a range of services in 12 prisons across the South West, however, hope to expand the service nationally.
Liz Davis, RECOOP Manager commented: “People aged over 50 are the fastest growing section of the prison population. Between 1996 and 2006, the population in prisons aged 50-59 increased by 74% and those aged 60 and above increased by 149%. Despite a high population of older prisoners, prison buildings and regimes are often designed for fit young men.
For example, an exercise yard with uneven ground or no seating means older prisoners with poor eye sight or mobility problems are unable to go outside. Simple things such as seating outside can have a really positive impact on older prisoners.”
RECOOP was officially launched at Leyhill Prison. The launch event proved a great opportunity for industry experts to come together and discuss the issues affecting older people in prison. Attendees heard from two former service users who explained the importance of the support and how it helped them to integrate back into society when released.
These are just two of the service users who have already benefited by the services and activities set up by RECOOP. One service user, who took part in an organised over 50’s gym session, commented, “I joined the over-50 gym class for the reasons of keeping fit and healthy and want to continue this when I am released. It is also healthy for communicating and integrating – all good goals for me.” Another took part in a creative writing class and said, “Creative writing sessions have enabled me to develop communication skills I never had before I attended the centre. I plan to have this activity as part of my community options in my release plan.”
RECOOP was developed from a project hosted by Age Concern Regional Support Services (South West), called Age Concern Older Offenders Project (ACOOP). The lack of support services for older prisoners meant the demand for the service was huge.
RECOOP is now part of BCHA, a specialist housing and social care support provider who help vulnerable people access the right housing, health, learning and work opportunities. With the help of BCHA, RECOOP are working hard to help the service grow and help more people nationally.
Note to editors
BCHA is a specialist housing and social care support provider, which helps homeless, vulnerable and other people access the right housing, health, learning and work opportunities. Working across Dorset, Oxford, Reading, Exeter, Salisbury and Chippenham. BCHA helps people find a way forward – and has been doing so for over 40 years. For more information visit www.bcha.org.uk
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