These testimonials represent not only the success of the services that IASIO provides, but also the individual success of each client. With the support and guidance offered by a Training and Employment Officer (TEO) and/or Resettlement Coordinator (RC), the clients are able to transform their lives.
Linkage Service Client
This client was referred by the Probation Service to a Linkage Service Training and Employment Officer (TEO) in 2005. At the time, he stated he could barely read or write and had a bad back which limited the type of work he could do. He had a long history of offending behaviour and had served a significant amount of time in prison. He recently contacted his former TEO to provide the following update on his current situation:
“ I remember when I went into your office in Sligo looking for help about what to do in relation to job prospects. You asked me what I would like to work at and I said I would like to work in an office. Then you asked me what I would like to work at in this office. I hadn’t a clue. You took it step by step with me, checked my literacy skills and told me they weren’t as bad as I thought and together we developed a plan that would eventually lead to my main goal – office work.
So, after years of courses, training, college and work experience, I am delighted to be able to tell you I got that office. It took a while but I got it. My own office! I am in the process of setting up my own business. I have a mobile catering stand which I’m setting up this summer and I’m also working as a Youth Advocate. I’m writing the book I told you about too. Now I know what I want to do in that office.
Many thanks for your encouragement and support in the early days in 2005. I appreciate it ”.
Linkage Service & GATE Service Client
Ann* spent six months in the Dóchas Centre (Female Prison on Mountjoy Campus) after a conviction for fraud and theft resulting from a disorienting period of poor mental health. She is from a small provincial town and was a victim of sexual assault with a history of suicide attempts, some occurring after the criminal charges were brought. However, she comes from a stable home and her family support network is strong.
Ann engaged with the Linkage Service prior to her incarceration, and through an intensive holistic guidance process began moving towards a more settled lifestyle, exploring the training and employment options available to her. When she received a custodial sentence, the Linkage Training & Employment Officer (TEO) transferred her case to a colleague in the GATE Service who provided continuity to her work in exploring her aspirations and opportunities while in prison. Following her release, Ann continued her engagement with the Linkage Service in the community. The Linkage TEO assisted Ann with her resettlement needs and aided in her recovery through referring Ann to other community support agencies, including the Rape Crisis Centre.
Her low confidence and feelings of shame were the biggest barriers to her progression. Through a process of exploring her options and taking small steps, Ann has almost completed her first term of study and several blocks of work experience with the National Learning Network. She now plans to continue her education and training in the area of Business Administration.
When asked about the experience of working with IASIO Training & Employment Officers, Ann said:
“ It boosted my confidence and helped me to realise that I can move on from the past. ”
Gary* was serving a two year sentence for burglary and related offences when referred to the GATE Service Training & Employment Officer (TEO). He had low motivation, limited employment history and no training. He also had a long history of addiction and had served a number of sentences. However, he was open to making changes in his life in order to create conditions for positive change to occur and participated fully in the guidance process.
The GATE Service TEO helped Gary in making attitudinal changes and identifying employment goals. Together they worked on his CV and developed his interview skills. Gary was then able to secure the training he needed for his identified employment goal.
The GATE TEO noticed that as Gary began training he became more motivated, developing a sense of self-worth and the belief that he had some control around making positive changes in his life. Once his training was complete, he applied for a full-time employment position & was successful in his first interview.
“I always wanted to work, but really felt I would never be able to achieve it, having made so many mistakes and bad choices. I thought that was it for me…I think I had resigned myself to being somebody that would keep ending up in prison.
When I first started working with the GATE TEO I thought “I want to change,” but deep down I didn’t think it was possible for me. I started the training and things seemed to snowball from there…I kept reminding myself of what the goal was…I got an interview and I made sure I was ready. Before I knew where I was I was working, I was getting up every morning going to work.”
Aaron* is from Tallaght and left school at Junior Certificate level. When he was 17, he became associated with some local criminals and as a result served eight years in prison on a drugs charge. Aaron’s family did not have a history of criminality and his prison sentence was a big shock to them.
He was referred to IASIO while in prison. His Training & Employment Officer (TEO) quickly identified his potential, and encouraged him to look at further education as he had completed several computer certificates while in prison. He still had over a year to go on his sentence, and his TEO helped him develop a positive sentence plan and supported him in applying to different colleges as well as applying to the Bank of Ireland Millennium Scholarship Fund.
Aaron was granted a Millennium Scholarship, which was not only essential for him financially but really helped boost his confidence. He was accepted onto a Diploma Course in Computers in a Dublin college. From there, he progressed onto the Degree Programme and went on to complete a Masters.
Aaron’s Training & Employment Officer is delighted with his success:
“He has a fabulous future ahead of him. I don’t claim the credit for anything, as Aaron is the one with the brains! For me as a TEO, he is living proof that with the holistic guidance provided by IASIO, those in prison can really have a future.”
Taighe* is from the Mid –West region and in his early thirties. Having left school after primary level, Taighe had literacy problems and no formal qualifications. He had a difficult upbringing, leading to alcohol and drug misuse and becoming involved in crime.
While in prison, Taighe made the decision to change the course of his life as he wanted to provide for his family. He was referred to IASIO and began working with a GATE Training & Employment Officer (TEO). Following meetings with his TEO, Taighe realised that he needed to obtain a qualification and, following a comprehensive assessment process which indicated his interests, aptitudes and current abilities, identified welding as the most realistic option that matched his personal aspirations. He then applied for and secured a place in a Welding Course in his local training centre.
Doing this training has given him a sense of pride and achievement as well as a valued professional status, and he is now eager to put his new qualifications to use and find suitable employment.
Taighe’s TEO says:
“He originally had no qualifications, poor literacy, poor work history and was involved in criminal behaviour. However, while serving his sentence he had a goal to achieve a qualification and through collaborative work this goal was realised. We’re now working on realising his next goal…employment!”
The Resettlement Service
When Joe* began engaging with the Resettlement Service in prison he needed a lot of support in relation to a number of complex issues. He presented with alcohol abuse problems, family difficulties and also suffered from bi-polar disorder. He battled low self-confidence and anxiety regarding his ability to establish healthy relationships with his partner and children, while also contending with his recovery from alcoholism and his mental health stability.
In preparation for release, five months before leaving prison, the Resettlement Coordinator assisted Joe with completing a housing application form, obtaining photographic ID and a Certificate of Imprisonment. They also completed an application form for a Medical Card which was then posted on to family GP. These supports provided Joe with the stability he needed to move on with his life after prison.
He is now in university full time, has established a good relationship with his ex-partner and sees his children regularly. He maintains his medication meticulously, and is in good spirits despite living within tight financial constraints.
It is now a number of years since the client was released from prison, but he phones the Resettlement Coordinator from time to time to let him know how he’s doing or to ask for advice on a new challenge or decision he might be making.
*Not clients’ real names