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For many who pursue a life of crime there is no way back.

Once they serve their time, they come out, take up where they left off, and are jailed again.

But for 30 young adults in Salford there may be a chance to escape that revolving door.

In a scheme called Jobs not Prison they will be helped to get work.

Broughton Trust, based in the city, will run the project and has already found local companies willing to offer full and part-time employment, and a dedicated worker to support those taken on.

A grant of £13,400 from Project Gulf, the Salford-based initiative set up to tackle organised crime, will provide the funding, plus £5,000 from GMP, and £7,500 from the force's Operation Challenger - a regional wide scheme to dismantle crime gangs.

Graham Cooper, project manager with the Broughton Trust said: “The ethos of this is to give people who have made mistakes in the past the opportunity to gain employment without any of the barriers that normally affect people those who have been involved in the criminal justice system.

“This project seeks to remove these barriers and directly place them into a workplace that pays good wages. These opportunities can provide a future without looking over your shoulder. This is done in conjunction with employers who also believe in giving people a second chance.”

Last year the M.E.N. revealed how former armed robber, Gavin Noakes, from Salford, had turned his life around and saved his son, Jake, from repeating his bad choices.

Both are now building a positive future working for Salford-based civil engineering company, UDP.

Gavin served nine years in prison after being shot four times by police who ambushed him and three other armed robbers as they were about to carry out a £100,000 security van heist at a bank in Haslingden.

Youth Development Officer for the Broughton Trust, Graham Cooper (Image: Joel Goodman)

Commenting last year, on Gavin and Jake, Graham said: "There are good jobs available and good companies that will offer these opportunities. Part of my job is to negotiate those jobs for people.

"If each company took on one person from a marginalised or disadvantaged background and gave them an opportunity like this and times that by a 100 we have 100 people who could do that. But the knock of that is massive - families and siblings have their lives changed too.

"People who are on the precipice of leading a life of crime or have done so start to change when they get a chance. I have seen that - I have seen it with Jake and his dad. The light's on - they have got it."

"It is difficult to persuade some companies this is a way forward in terms of their contribution to social value. If you get contracts in Manchester and Salford, and make money from those contracts, give something back - this is UDP's way. So profit in the company is coming back to the community."

"I get emotional when I think about what Jake has achieved" (Image: Joel Goodman)

Gavin told the M.E.N. last year that as he became a model prisoner, burying himself in learning, and gaining qualifications to make up for a life of crime he became concerned about Jake.

And he made a promise to himself that he would not let Jake slide into the adrenalin-fuelled existence that almost cost him his life.

"I could see it - his attitude", Gavin said. "I served a long time in prison and towards the end of my sentence Jake was getting into his teenage years and his attitude on some of the visits when he used to come and see me, I could see myself when I was that age, and I didn't like it one bit.  

"It was this wanna-be gangster talk - 'you got caught, you're stupid,  I'm not like you.' I was quite scared of what could have happened."

Detective Superintendent Chris Packer said: “This is a project which recognises the importance of ensuring that young adults, who may have had difficulty keeping out of trouble in the past, have an opportunity to have a true and proper stake in society that steers them away from future serious and organised crime.

“So far we have seen how Project Gulf has been able to incentivise those who have previously been vulnerable to being involved in crime and have now served their time.

“We appreciate the difficulty that those with criminal records can have when striving to get back into employment and therefore the support that this project offers has our unwavering commitment.

“These people are able to start working towards a safer and more prosperous life for themselves and their families, and as a force there is nothing that we desire more.”

Councillor David Lancaster, Salford city council 's lead member for environment and community safety, said Project Gulf, which has been copied nationwide, was set up to deter re-offending as well as take down gangs and criminals.

“People with criminal records can struggle to find work which leaves them vulnerable to being drawn back into a life of crime. This project is about offering them the chance to break that pattern by getting into work and helping them to stay there so they can turn their lives around.

“We’ve seen success with similar coaching and mentoring to deter young people from getting involved in crime and find a better way forward. Now it’s the turn of adults who have taken the wrong path.


Read full article on Salford


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