Breaking the chain of young offenders

A 19 year old from Bridgwater is determined to increase support for young offenders after her best friend was jailed. Westover Councillors Brian Smedley and Kathy Pearce attended her recent launch event at the YMCA to find out more about the project and see what they could do to help.

Lorna Rosthorn is convinced the system is set up to fail young people, who ultimately re-offend once released. Working with Fixers, the national movement of young people ‘fixing the future,’ she held an event, premiering a spoken word film aimed at highlighting the support needs of young offenders. Lorna’s best friend is currently behind bars but has refused an early release as he fears the environment he will come out to will cause him to re-offend.

The film – entitled ‘Not Because Our Bones Are Bad’ – sees Fixer Lorna Rosthorn (19) recounting the feelings of many young reoffenders who find themselves in and out of prison. Lorna, from Bridgwater, Somerset, hopes to use her Fixers film to lobby decision-makers in her area to offer more prisoner reform services for young offenders to help them adapt to life after serving their sentence. Lorna was inspired to work with Fixers after seeing her friend return to prison again and again, simply because he understood the routine there.

“On the outside, many young criminals are treated with belligerence, and this only encourages them to commit crimes to go back inside,’ says Lorna.‘Every day outside is a struggle to stay out of trouble. Without support, and only ignorance instead, a lot of young people reoffend just to go back to somewhere that they understand.’ Government research indicates that 73% of young people released from custody re-offend within one year of being released. She adds: ‘The need to rehabilitate is lacking in the world out there. The only time you receive the comfort you crave is when you misbehave and end up in prison. ‘We need to offer more support to young people who commit crimes so they can break their cycle of offending.’

You can watch Lorna’s film here: Not Because our Bones are Bad

Raising Awareness

Her event brought together young people, local service providers and decision makers to raise awareness of the lack of support available to young offenders once released. On the event, Lorna said:  “I think it went really well and I’m glad people took time out of their day to come. However I’d like to reach a wider audience. I hope more support becomes available to offenders after they leave prison and I hope problems young people have are identified earlier and the support they need made available to prevent offending in the first place.”

Lorna hopes that her campaign is a success and has already been invited by UserVoice, an organisation seeking reform of the criminal justice system, to attend and present her film at the National Youth Justice Convention. This convention will be attended by youth offending teams, politicians and civil servants from across the country.

About Fixers

Fixers works with young people across the UK. Each Fixer is supported to create the resources they need to make their chosen project a success, with creative help from media professionals to make their own promotional material, such as films, websites or print work.

Fixers has already supported over 9,000 young people across the UK to have an authentic voice in their community.

“Fixers started in 2008 as just an idea… an idea given a voice by some 9,000 young people over the past five years,” says Margo Horsley, Chief Executive of Fixers. “They have reached thousands of people with their work, on a national stage as well as in and around where they live. They choose the full array of social and health issues facing society today and set about making their mark. Fixers are always courageous and their ideas can be challenging and life-changing, not just for themselves.”

Now, with a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, Fixers has extended into Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund’s NI Chair, said: “The Big Lottery Fund is extremely proud to be supporting Fixers to engage with more young people to change things for the better. Fixers has a tremendous potential – one young person’s initial idea can be transformed into reality, spread across a community and make a positive influence on a wide range of people. There are thousands of young people campaigning to make improvements in their neighbourhoods and Fixers provides a platform to highlight their voluntary work and many achievements.”

There are lots more stories about young people doing great things on the Fixers website, Twitter and Facebook pages:

Some Fixer Facts
  • Since 2008 some 8,700 young people in England have become Fixers and created more than 900 projects. Now with a £7.2 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund, Fixers is extending into Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
  • BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since June 2004. The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £29 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.