The New Leaf Initiative was founded by Marie-Claire O’Brien, an ex-offender passionate about helping ex-offenders who are trying to make positive changes. Since leaving Prison, she has had her own business, a Ltd company in Birmingham and later worked as a self-employed Professional within the Criminal Justice system, specialising in training, mentoring and engaging with ex-offenders (Male and Female) as well as Youth offenders from borders of Somerset down South, all the way up to Bradford and Leeds. Marie-Claire has witnessed first-hand the power relationships and the right attitude have to change and inspire people.
We only employ people who have direct experience of the criminal justice system and the partner agencies either as a service user or family member. We believe it is this which gives us the access, credibility and insight to do our job to an exceptional standard.
The New Leaf Initiative is a peer mentoring organisation with a focus on prison industry and employability training and opportunities for prisoners, and ex-offenders out in the community. We provide through-the-gate support to give the best possible chance of a positive resettlement and have genuine employment opportunities on release, thereby reducing the social problem of high reoffending rates and low rates of employment for this disadvantaged group. We plan to open a training academy/workshop for those released from prison so that they can progress into sustainable employment or form their own businesses.
Our service is volunteer based peer mentoring with a focus on employability and sustainable employment. We engage in custody through our Prison industry or commissioned pieces of work before progressing to 1-2-1’s within the legal visits setting or rooms set aside by the prisons. From here we gauge and attempt to ignite the motivation of clients, developing a rapport with them by using our own experiences as an engagement tool to break down barriers.
The Prison Industry is environmentally friendly pallet furniture creation, using pallets which are stripped down to wood and turning them into garden planters, artwork and a variety of other quirky Items. The products are then painted and hand finished by the prisoners before being sold by New Leaf. At the same time, volunteer mentors visit the prisoners to build rapport and unravel some of the more complex Issues behind their offending such as drug addiction, family problems, housing or anger.
Once a relationship has built up, we create a tailored action plan around the candidate’s desires and capabilities, asking them to define where they would like to be in the future, raising their aspirations and self-esteem along the way by using the G.R.O.W. mentoring model and unconditional positive regard. In providing the through-the-gate service, we help to secure accommodation for those that are homeless on release, standing at approximately 38%. We then continue the 1-2-1’s in our office or out in the community via our weekly drop-in service at SIFA Fireside, 48-52 Allcock Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, and separate community visits, supporting people to access additional services such as mental health provision, drug services, housing options, probation appointments etcetera.