A Band of Brothers Leamington Engagement Project

From January we ran the engagement process where we worked with various organisations to support the recruitment of young men involved in the criminal justice system or at risk of being involved in the criminal justice system. These organisations included:

  • Warwickshire Probation Team
  • Warwickshire Integrated Offenders Management Team
  • Leamington Police
  • Warwickshire County Council Care Leavers Team
  • Change, Grow, Live (www.changegrowlive.org) Leamington based organisation working with young adults with drug addictions and involved in the criminal justice system
  • Sheltered Accommodation providers in Leamington
  • Salvation Army Way Ahead Project
  • Warwickshire County Council Youth Workers

Individuals representing these organisations were invited to a coffee morning where we presented information about A Band of Brothers and began exploring which of their service users could benefit from attending the Quest for Community Programme.

From this we identified 8 young men that fit the criteria to take part in the Quest and proceeded to run two Information Evenings in February to provide a first experience for the young men to sit in circle with older men and hear about the work we do and what’s on offer for them. In total four young men attended the Information Evenings.

The remaining four young men were engaged individually including visiting a young man in prison twice as his release date fell a few days before the Quest weekend was due to take place. By the time the Quest Weekend took place in March only four young men were committed to attend it, for which we arranged transport to the site. In parallel we also recruited 8 older men from Leamington to attend the Quest as volunteers and become the next cohort of mentors for future Quest Programmes.
3 young men and 8 older men successfully completed the Rites of Passage weekend, which finished on the Sunday afternoon. It was a deep and impactful weekend where the transformation in the young men was noticeable when compared to how they had arrived on the Friday evening.

Here is a photo taken on the Sunday afternoon of both young and older men that had taken part during the weekend training both as participants and staff. In total there were 30 volunteering staff members who had given up their Friday, Saturday and Sunday to this worthy cause.

Since the weekend the young men are currently undertaking the 12 week Quest for Community mentoring programme whereby they meet up with their mentor from the community once a week for at least an hour and connect with them discussing various topics including anger, grief and fear. After which they attend a weekly circle with all men of the Leamington community whereby we run exercises which further explore these topics within the safety of the community which has been formed specifically for this situation.

Even at this halfway stage it is noticeable that the young men are exploring new narratives for their lives and that this is already having a positive impact on their lives and those that are closest to them too.

To date we have also run a Community Day whereby the young and older men are involved in a community project volunteering alongside members of the public supporting a good cause. To this end the Canalside Community Food Project which is a community supported agriculture scheme (www.canalsidecommunityfood.org.uk) was supported by a number of the men in clearing woodland with members of the public. There are two more Community Days planned in April and May which provides more opportunities for the young men to engage with this element of the Quest Programme.

During January and February we ran two training courses for the men in our Leamington A Band of Brothers community to undertake which would prepare them for mentoring the young men during the Quest Programme on the topics that are covered during the 12 weeks. We now have a total of 19 men who have completed this training all of which have been DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) certified which is a prerequisite for being a mentor.

In addition three men from our Leamington A Band of Brothers community have joined other men from A Band of Brothers communities in commencing their Leadership Training which consists of five weekend residential training courses. This will ensure that we have enough capacity to run further Quest Programmes safely in the future.

We now have 39 active men in our Leamington Community – something we have been able to achieve thanks to your funding, and the willingness of adult men to step up to be role models for younger men who need this community. As a result of this we have outgrown our previous venue and moved to a new venue in February. We now hold our weekly meetings in LAMP Riverside, Adelaide Road, Leamington Spa.

The venue is big enough for the weekly meetings and has facilities for drinks and food (given that we provide a hot meal for the young men). In addition there is plenty of parking and it is close to
Leamington’s railway station.

Raising Awareness and Additional Funds
During 2019 we have been actively involved in spreading the word about A Band of Brothers Leamington which has consisted of presenting at Leamington’s Pecha Kucha night and being interviewed on Kenilworth’s Radio Abbey.

A Band of Brothers Leamington was the supported Charity of the month in January for Leamington Park Run based in Newbold Comyn which raised a few hundred pounds. We gave a speech at this event.

The venue for the Homecoming has been booked for the evening of Monday June 10th 2019. Please keep this date in your diary as any member of Crimebeat will be welcomed to attend and celebrate the young men’s completion of the Quest Programme. We will also be showing the film documentary about A Band of Brothers on the evening.