PORTSMOUTH South MP Stephen Morgan joined representatives of the Open Door service user group at their weekly meeting.
Open Door is a group for probation service users and and former offenders that is supported by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Rehabilitation Company (HIOW CRC). The group meet weekly at St Luke’s church in Southsea.
Stephen said: “I was pleased to meet members of the Open Door group and hear about the issues facing those on probation. I was impressed by the supportive nature of the group and how proactive its members are.”
Probation staff Rachael Loveridge and Sue Vigar-Taylor also met with the MP and discussed the role the HIOW CRC plays in supporting rehabilitation.
Rachael, network developer for HIOW CRC, said: “Open Door is a successful peer support group which empowers offenders and former offenders to seek solutions and advice to help them to stop reoffending.
“Group members help each other with practical support and accessing local resources. They also become positive role models. The group helps members to integrate into their local community, which is a key principle of our new model of rehabilitation – Interchange.”
Open Door has been running for more than three years. During that time group members have accessed training courses and gained paid employment, found housing and support to maintain a healthy lifestyle and formed positive social networks.
Neil Bailey, Open Door member, said on behalf of the group: “Stephen listened carefully to what we said and showed that he understood the issues facing people coming out of prison and those supervised in the community.
“We spoke about the challenges of finding a job whilst having a criminal record. We felt valued and we were honoured that Stephen took the time to come and meet with us.”
Back row, left to right: Open Door members – David Bayes, Neil Bailey, Darcy Hart, Stephen Marshall
Front row, HIOW CRC network developer, Rachael Loveridge; HIOW CRC case manager, Hannah O’Neill; Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan; Open Door members – Richard Liddle with dog Bluey, Jeff Chinsang, Nick McJury; HIOW CRC volunteer co-ordinator, Sue Vigar-Taylor