In today’s blog, we hear from Karan Channer, Project Worker in our Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Resettlement service on the support they provide to individuals looking to move away from gang lifestyles.
Hi Karan, tell us a bit about your team and your role.
I started my role in the Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Resettlement Team in 2019. We focus on gang violence in the Wolverhampton and surrounding areas and provide intervention services when a person is in custody. For example, if a person has 12 weeks before release from custody, we’ll work with them for those 12 weeks and once they leave, we create a support plan and work with them after they leave to avoid any reoffending.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Today is a perfect example – we were scheduled to do a prison visit and do an assessment with a young person who needed emotional support. After that, I returned to the office and worked through my notes and emails. It can vary, some days we’re in the prison for a few hours or we have days mainly in the office with lots of virtual meetings.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It isn’t a typical role. I can create a to do list and it may not go nearly as I expected. Some days, you don’t know what the day is going to bring. Also, I love the team we have, the people I work with and the flexibility of my role.
What are some of the challenges?
The heartache that you see families and victims go through. Many people spend their lives going through the system without support and an assessment of their emotions and experiences. It is difficult as some service users have not had the guidance and love that every child deserves to have in a stable, balanced and loving home.
Seeing many people without the right support, is that what motivated you to get into the role you’re in now?
Yes – growing up, I saw many people live difficult childhoods as the area I grew up in had so much strife, pain and violence but I had the support of a close family, and we were not directly affected by it. I never understood how others did not have what we had.
The Princess Royal visited your service recently, what was that like?
It was really nice, she was very down to earth and knew a lot about our service and about the Midlands. It was an eye opener and a great visit. She said that young people appeared to gel well with Catch22 and supports our call for longer-term contracts, which is a real challenge nationally.
Can you tell us about a service user that you supported?
This service user was 32 and had been in prison for eight years. He was well known in the Wolverhampton area. When he came out, he was referred to us and allocated to me. He was passionate, ready and had enough of being in the gang circles and lifestyle. He had one child and missed much of her growing up.
He was a dream to work with because he adhered to everything we’d outlined and discussed. He would phone me and tell me the work he’d done in preparation for our weekly meetings which consisted of one-to-one mentoring, counselling, support with job applications as well money management. He was eager to start working but had issues with housing – he had a partner who waited for him as he left prison, but he wanted his own space. We applied for housing and funding for the job, and he started his role.
We then filled out the housing application, and the only requirement he had to do was declare the sentence that he had been released from as his other convictions were unspent. We got a call back from the housing, saying there was a property for him to view. We were very happy and celebrated.
Then, he got another a call back saying that they wanted to check the information with his probation officer. After speaking with the probation officer, they contacted him again rejecting his housing offer. Unfortunately, it was the difficulty with finding housing, which ultimately resulted in him re-offending. It is a massive obstacle for many prison leavers who are already facing difficulties with life after prison.
So many of the people we work with are ready and interested in wanting to change their life and are doing all the right things. His story highlights just how much people need those three Ps to settle in life – a safe place to live, good people around them, and a purpose – in this case a job which would give him financial stability and a home. These things can help move them forward in life or hinder people in getting out of the system.