Christmas Time is a time for reflection, a time to share with friends and family.

Some of our service users will spend Christmas in prison, shared homes or probation approved premises. Others might be alone and It is for that reason that our assistance will still be available during this sometimes-difficult period.  Besides our own peer mentors, you can reach out to:

  • Samaritans: dial 116 123
  • NHS: dial 111
  • A&E: you can go to A&E directly if you need immediate help and are worried about your safety

For the New Leaf Initiative, 2017 has been a successful year.
In 2017, New Leaf volunteers supported hundreds of prisoners in custody and over 60 people in the community to change their lives in some way – through counselling, training, motivational work, mentoring, clothing, funding, benefits and housing support and of course, employment and numerous job interviews.

In October, we took on a new member of staff, John who has supported New Leaf in every way imaginable from developing our back-office provision, to being an incredible mentor working 1-2-1 with our service users to support change in any way possible.  John has taken to New Leaf like a fish to water and will continue his amazing work alongside our other awe-inspiring volunteers, Steve, Dave, Zoe and Marie-Claire to name a few…

In December, we moved into our new office, 8 Allcock Street, Birmingham, enabling us to see service users 5 days a week in a safe, warm and inclusive environment, as well as at our weekly drop-in at SIFA Fireside Homeless charity where we continue to support their service users with convictions.

For New Leaf, the future is bright, and the same is true for you, regardless of your convictions, if you can develop the right attitude, the right state of mind, and are able to commit to working with one of our experienced peer mentors; we will do our utmost to empower you to decide your own destiny and what is right for your future.

Our mentors are fully qualified, and all have personal experience of overcoming the barriers to re-joining society – of turning pain into progression and personal power.  New Leaf is our team of volunteers.  Here are some words from a former service user:

 “Without your support, I don’t know where I’d be right now […] I’ve turned my back on a life of violence & crime,
I’ve even kicked anxiety and depression into touch, and live a wonderful life with my family,
working a legitimate job which I never thought would happen.
None of this would of been possible without your desire to help someone that you never even knew”

Please stay in touch with us, and continue to read our announcements through our social media platforms, we have lots planned so 2018 will be an exciting year, that we already know!

The New Leaf team wishes all Service Users, partners and referral agencies a very Merry Christmas, and a happy and successful 2018.

 The New Leaf Team

Merry Christmas

and a Happy New Year

Quote of the Week

“Obstacles, when viewed in a positive light, are simply stepping-stones on the journey to success. When you think of famous people who could have been stopped in their tracks, there are many examples. But one that always stands out for me is Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb; obstacles became the vehicle to keep trying. He once said, “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

~ Byron Pulsifer

Quote of the Week

Our first task then, in living with ourselves, is to be ourselves, to be genuine and sincere, to go forth to others as persons we truly are without shame or pretence.

~ Wilfred Peterson

New Leaf has a new office

Dear all,

From Monday the 11th of December on, we will be in our new office in Digbeth, Birmingham.

The address is 8 Allcock Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B9 4DY, which is the same street as in which Sifa Fireside is located.

As soon as our landline is installed, we will also publish this.
In the meantime, do not hesitate to call Marie-Claire or John on the numbers mentioned in the top of this page.

We will continue to have our weekly Drop in at our partner, Sifa Fireside.
More information about this, you can find on the events page of this website.

The office will offer the opportunity to see us pretty much 5 days a week in a safe and warm environment.

It is important though, to avoid disappointment, to let us know that you are coming.
Text, email, Skype, WhatsApp, are all ways in which you, as service user, can reach us.

In the meantime, join our mailing list, and be always up to date with New Leaf’s initiatives and progress.

Entrance of 8 Allcock Street

Number 8


An Apprenticeship is often a great way to get back into the labour market.

It gives your possible new employer the opportunity to see you working, and it will help you with your self-confidence.

The Government has refreshed it’s initiative (click on picture), but also New Leaf always has the latest information from our partner college BMet.

Our Drop-ins are a perfect place to discuss your options, and we are more than willing to help you out with the administrative procedure.
Through our partner Suited for Success we can help you with your interview outfit.
All you need is the right state of mind and willingness.

Come to our weekly Drop-in at Sifa Fireside and discover what New Leaf can mean for you!

That is why I volunteer for New Leaf

Today one of our Service Users had his first day with his new employer.
His journey started on the 11th of October, when he had his first interview. Moments before the interview we would whisper some tips in his ears, and 20 minutes later he came out with a big smile.
The interview, he felt, went very good.

It was the Monday after that Marie-Claire got the news.
He passed the initial interview and would receive an invitation for training.

That day was today.

We feel privileged to be part of that journey.

On Friday, it will be 8 weeks ago that I went through the big gate at HMP Featherstone.
And no, I did not and will not look back.
The New Leaf Initiative is giving me the opportunity where I have longed for.
Was it easy after my release, no, it is not.

Where my interaction with members of the public was very good, it is the official bodies that disappointed me so far.
At probation they could not find my details; during the first 5 weeks I got to see a new person every time. Now I have met my probation manager.
In my case it is a CRC, and whilst I am very patient, sometimes I cannot understand it.

Opening a bank account, hmmm, the application process is smooth, but then there is the silence, followed by an apology.
My credit report had grown substantially, not the score, that went the wrong way around.
But rather than letting it get to me, I took the challenge on, and called all the agencies who had made inquiries.
The results were fantastic, just by being honest, I was able to agree to either delayed payment, or to a payment plan.

This is now exactly where New Leaf can give you the listening ear, and guide you.

You don’t have to explain the how and the why in detail, but we will ask you a question or two about your reasons for committing an offence in the first place.
This is part of our intake, and only because it will help us to understand how we can support you.

It is our experience that makes us unique.

We have been there!

We are not an unknown person on the phone, and for us, you’re not a number, or just a last name.
You are a person who made a mistake.

Yes, your patience can be stretched, because after all also we cannot do miracles.
But we are there every step. We do not give you an IEP when you are upset, we do not run away, we do not send you away when you are in a bad mood.
With us, you are always in charge, empowerment is extremely important.

You are no longer is prison, where your life is determined by staff or trouble on a wing.
You are a Service User of the New Leaf Initiative.

It is not for nothing that our mission is to 100% empower you if you wish to turn over a new leaf.

Once a week we have our drop-in, open to all with a criminal past.
Do not be shy, you can reach us by email, phone, text or Skype.
Do not make the mistake of not asking the question.

It took me 50 years to deal with my past, do not wait that long.


Richard Branson’s weakness

On Twitter I found a tip for every entrepreneur. But in fact this is not just valid for entrepreneurs.

    This is valid for all of us.

The below is taken from Richard’s own blog.

We all have to recognise that we all have weaknesses. I know I do. But I’m never willing to let them defeat me, or get me down. I have always sought to turn my disadvantages into advantages. For example, my dyslexia taught me to think differently, and solve problems in a unique way.

W is for Weakness

“I became a really good delegator early in life, and learned to find and work with people whose strengths balance my weaknesses.

By surrounding myself with fantastic people, who are brilliant in the areas where I struggle, we’ve managed to grow Virgin into the global group of businesses that it is today.

So instead of covering up your weaknesses and trying to sweep them under the rug, acknowledge them and start thinking about ways that you can use them to really benefit you.

What are you weaknesses? How do you address them?

Are you an experienced Woo Commerce developer?

Please come forward and volunteer a couple hours for New Leaf to perfectionise our Word Press shop.

The shop is up, but we have quite some trouble with the sizing of the images, and a general look at our Word Press environment would help us enormously.

You will be invited to Birmingham, and your travel expenses will be paid.

If you can please send an email to, giving us a short description of your experience, we will contact you very soon after.

Thank you,
The New leaf team

The first £10 donation is there!

From today, New Leaf has partnered with PayPal to let you donate to the New Leaf Initiative.

It took less than 12 hours to have £10,- in.
Spread the word, and help us to help others.

Every donation, no amount is too small, will help New Leaf to reach its goal to help re-offenders have a second chance.

A special mention to the first donator.
Huisbrouwerij Klein Duimpje in Hillegom, the Netherland, is a traditional micro brewery that started with brewing beer at home.
Nowadays Erik Bouman and his staff have a brewery which is not large enough to take on Heineken, but honestly the beer is better.

Click on the logo to see their website, and whilst in Dutch, the pictures are extremely clear and powerful.

Write an email to their info account, and Erik will tell you where to get the beer in the UK.

Contact New Leaf by Skype

Dear all,

From now on the New Leaf team can also be contacted by Skype.
In the footer of every page of the website, you can now see the Skype ‘Call me!’ and ‘Chat with me’ buttons.
Just click on these, and your personal Skype login will immediately connect you to New Leaf.

We endeavour to be there at least during office hours, but just give it a try.

BMet College Open Events November 2017

Find out about BMet’s fantastic facilities, choose from hundreds of courses including a wide range of A Levels, apprenticeships and vocational areas covering art and design, sport, construction, built environment, travel & tourism, health & social care, uniformed public services as well as dental, medical, podiatry, music, performance arts, animal care and horticulture plus loads more. You will have the opportunity to apply, be interviewed and receive an offer on the day.

Click here to register to one of the events. If necessary we can help you choosing.

Alcohol Awareness Week

How much do you know about alcohol? There’s more to find out.

Harmful drinking is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49 year-olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages.

Alcohol is estimated to cost the NHS £3.5 billion annually.

An estimated 595,000 adults in England are alcohol dependent and in need of specialist treatment. However the number receiving treatment is closer to just 100,000

50%of violent crime can be attributed to alcohol.

167,000 working years are lost in England yearly because of alcohol.

While overall levels of consumption are falling, around 2.5 million people in the UK drink more than 14 units on their heaviest-drinking days.

Around 220,000 children in England live with an alcohol-dependent adult.

Alcohol is linked to more than 60 medical conditions including liver disease, heart disease, some cancers and depression.

In 2015 there were 8,758 deaths related to alcohol in the UK.

Click on logo to see the official website.

DWP actively promoting ex-offenders

This morning we received a tweet on Twitter promoting ex-offenders by the DWP.

Isn’t it time that Ban-the-Box becomes mandatory, and that employers not complying should be put onto a black list?

New Leaf is the leading organisation in the West Midlands helping ex-offenders getting back into employment.

Let your organisation follow the example of many and join employing ex-offenders.

Click the link for more information on the DWP website.

A new name

Hello all,

I joined the New Leaf Initiative in October 2017 after my release from prison on 29 September. In prison, I have used my time to address my personal issues, qualify to IAG level four and being an active Peer Mentor. The need for help is enormous. The majority of ex-offenders released in the community fall into a big gap. The New Leaf Initiative is there to help fill that gap with not only emotional support, but also helping to understand that there is life after release, and more importantly support ex-offenders back into work.

Before my incarceration I used to work in corporations where Human Resources was always there to help employees. Unfortunately, probation services are understaffed and most of the times too busy to help the most needing. Yet, it is the same service that sends too many ex-offenders back to prison because of administrative reasons, without committing an offence.

Helping others is in my blood. To me there is no greater satisfaction than being able to see others achieve their goals and to give them a, so much needed, future. Marie-Claire and I met each other in prison during one of her motivational talks. There was an instant connection and the three times that we saw each other afterwards it just got stronger.

I have now joined the New Leaf Initiative and will besides being a Peer Mentor be heading the back-office function. There we will create work-experience places for service users interested in administration, accounting and marketing.

Once we have secured an office space we will be able to lead New Leaf into the next phase of development. We will receive more referrals from other agencies and will be able to receive service users 5 days a week in a welcome and safe environment. We will actively expand our social enterprise activities and are planning to in the near future create our training academy.

Watch this space, since in the coming months we will post regular updates and will ask for your involvement and help.


Prison Industries

In HMP Featherstone, New Leaf has an active workshop where prisoners are creating pieces of furniture and other items.

This is an important mechanism we use to engage prisoners’ pre-release to prepare them for life and work on the outside.

We provide through-the-gate support to provide the best chance of positive resettlement, allowing the people we work with to access our networks and opportunities.

Some Examples

Or with text

And this can be the result:

If you’re interested in one of the pieces, please contact us.

The confusing thing about charitable work…

Hi lovely people,


I felt compelled to write this blog, which is a new one to be honest – I’m usually too busy to even consider such things and try and thrash one out only when absolutely necessary for the Community Interest Company I run.  However, today has felt slightly different and I need to share what I’ve learned about the world of non-profits, or profit-for-purpose as I prefer to call them.

I woke up today feeling anxious.  I have numerous deadlines at the moment, 5 over the coming month including two university assignments, our first Probation project due to commence, Prison industry to co-ordinate, supply and manage as well as the volunteers, new recruits, and general advertising, book-keeping, paperwork, safeguarding, networking and day-to-day running of The New Leaf Initiative CIC.  We have our official launch event booked for the 5th of May at the Impact hub and the creation of New Leaf Employment Solutions to get underway.  It’s a lot as you can see, but i’m not moaning – I’m simply realising something.

I became self-employed so that I could pick my Son up occasionally from school, be in charge of my own destiny and live the dream which for me, is making some kind of a living from helping people who want to turn things around.  And that’s where the Dichotomy lies.

Things are busy, to say the least, and the only people who suffer is my child and service users as well as the volunteers who give up their free time to help people out of the goodness of their hearts and the pain from their own pasts which give them the drive to do so – Hurt people Hurt people, and Changed people Change people.  That is what I truly believe and am finding through this work and the outcomes we are achieving.  But those results are coming at a cost – In wanting to grow New Leaf in order to help more people, I run the risk of losing touch with the very people I started the service for; my Son and the Prisoners and ex-offenders who have had enough of the vicious cycle.

Paperwork, spending hours and days bid-writing, to then lost by a whisker is all pretty demoralising stuff, and it’s easy to get bogged down with the weight of it.  And I was starting to today.

And then I read the story of Myron, the young man who was stabbed in London.  He was talented apparently, funny.   People seemed to like him, he had no parents, only siblings to  raise him.  I was stabbed as a teen on the school bus, by a very close friend of mine, and one of my young mentees had recently survived a knife attack on the bus by another angry youth.  Our kids are angry.  They are Angry at the lack of opportunity they see before them, the lack of caring and support they receive from society, angry at the abuse they’ve suffered when no-one heard them crying at night, angry that no-one understands that they don’t know how to be any other way, angry at the fact that no-one can see they are all good people deep down, angry that no has time for them…Time.

So the article about the boy who lost his life on the streets of London, and the story closer to home of the young man I work with who almost lost his life on the bus made me realise, I don’t want to sit in my office, writing the £100,000 bid that won’t write itself.  I don’t want to be immersed in my computer or phone all the time,  I don’t want to always have the feeling of impending doom with multiple, impossible deadlines.  I want to do what I set out to do.

So today, I’m not giving into the overwhelming paperwork or deadlines or emails.  I’m going to see the young mentee who is having an operation to bring back the feeling in his arm since the knife attack.  I’m going to pick my son up from school and have some quality time with him for a few hours while we prepare for his birthday tomorrow.  I’m going to focus on my real priorities.  Because that’s what makes me happiest and when your body is telling you ‘no’ through anxiety which floods your veins, or anger or fear – it’s time we started asking ourselves the question; What do I really want and how do I feel about what I am currently doing?  If the answer is out of alignment with our life amibitions, we need to adjust things slightly.

Click this link for Our Film for the Peoples Projects, 2016 which shows a little about the important work we can do to inspire and support change.  As an MD torn constantly between taking the business forward into sustainability in order to help more people and actually working intensively with the same people who need our time, it’s a tough call on which is the most important.  On the days like today however, when the weight gets too much, it’s important to take it back to the grassroots of New Leaf, why it all began and why it will continue to thrive.  SO I hand the paperwork over to a higher power, release myself from the guilt and panic, and get out to be with the guys who need me – the mentees and of course and above all else, my beautiful child.  Don’t want him ending up as another ‘forgotten one’ after all…

Big Love, Always xx

Hello world! Now for some big news…



DSC_1506Hello there!

Thanks for stopping by at the New Leaf Initiative – we value all support from the local community, businesses and anyone else who shares our vision.  It is great to be here, unveiling our new blog whilst at the same time telling people about our big news!

So, what exactly is our vision I hear you ask; Its quite simple really.  We support offenders away from crime and into education, training and work using the power of people who have been there themselves.  Our vision is that by sharing our experiences, hope and insight we will help others to see that change is possible.  We do this by challenging negative behaviours and instilling positive ones through mentoring, Introducing work and accredited training and by using our micro-businesses to embed learning which has often started in the Criminal justice system.  Not only does this process help our mentees – it is proven through research that the benefit is felt by the mentors too, much the same way as it is for example within Alcoholics anonymous.  This furthers people from crime even more and can often be the final stage of the healing, rehabilitative  process, where shame can be wiped away and replaced with feeling of pride, achievement and self-belief, allowing people to keep moving forwards.

My hope is that my own experiences and those of our volunteers and mentees have the ability to show the local community a few things that we know to be true. For example, did you know that approximately 12 million people in the UK have a criminal record?  That 97% of people in custody would like to desist from crime?  That 68% of prisoners believe having a job would keep them out of trouble in the future?  This latest figure is backed up by data which suggests ex-offenders who find employment are 40-50% less likely to commit further offences.  So, if we know this in our Great Nation, why do we still have almost 1 in 2 prisoners reoffending within the first 12 months?  It has been clear for a while that something needs to change…

And it is starting to.  Slowly.

Michael Gove the Justice secretary, has moved away from the punitive rhetoric voiced by his predecessor, Chris Grayling and David Cameron himself delivered a speech regarding prison reform only a few weeks ago – the first in 20 years by a British prime minister.  In that speech he recognised the fact that almost half of all prisoners have mental health issues, that many have suffered abuse, trauma, violence and neglect, that many want to change, but don’t have a clue how to due to poor education and few credible role models coupled with a sometimes corrupt system and fewer staff/services/opportunites due to the cuts.  How do any of us know how we would have turned out if we had been born to a different family, or a different post code?

I have a young guy I work with, he is one of 8 children born out of a drug and drink addicted mother and father.  No-one works in the house and whilst he was in prison, his brother sold all of his clothes.  He got out of prison, determined to change his life and start some education but on release, felt unable to attend because of his personal situation of living in a hostel, having no money or family support or structure.  He fell-out with his girlfriend and it all got too much, at 22 he took an overdose at his youth hostel.  Whilst in the mental institution he realised how chaotic things had gotten and resolved to get out and get a job to work his way out of his situation.  He has found work and support through New Leaf, joined a gym, got a flat and now engages with different agencies.  One day he hopes to become a youth mentor himself.  In his words, people like him need ‘Goals, someone who will listen and care and opportunities.’  Without these things in place, he would undoubtedly keep drifting, costing the system a small fortune and leaving a trail of emotional and physical damage.

That’s what we provide – opportunities for people to grow from people who genuinely care and can relate and who are trained to get people out of their comfort zones.

Talking of which…

Our big news!

We are delighted to announce that we are through to the finals of the #PeoplesProjects, a competition run by ITV news and the Big Lottery fund which will see three out of the five shortlisted win £50,000 to make a difference in their local community.  This is an amazing opportunity for us, just out of our first year since forming in 2014.

We will be featured on ITV news at 6pm on the 3rd March or online from Monday the 29th February and we are calling out for as many votes as possible!!

If we win, we will use the money to fund a warehouse with microbusinesses within it to directly employ ex-offenders in order to raise aspirations, embed a working ethos, upskilling and raising self-esteem.  We will have a base to provide support with practical and emotional issues arising in the resettlement period from people who are level 2 trained mentors and we will contribute a percentage of profits to victim support charities.  We will then match our people with one of our employers such as Virgin trains or a local business we may be supporting through labour shortages or expansion.


We find that this process is far more empowering and life-changing than any behavioural course and our results prove it with over 57% of our clients being supported into work or volunteering opportunities.

If we can provide a safe place for people to go and be busy in a positive way once they have left the criminal justice system behind them, where positive peers can be accessed for advice, far away from negative friendships closer to home;  If we can pick them up at the gate and help tackle the fact that many leave prison with no more than a £46 discharge grant which must last up to 6 weeks before any benefit payments begin by paying them for their productivity in a work environment with rules and expectations, rewarding good behaviour and incentivising more of the same, then doesn’t it make sense to do that?

Whatever your personal beliefs on crime and punishment, the current system isn’t working and so we must look to the empirical research and the countries which are reducing reoffending rates down to 25% or less as well as our own more innovative practices happening in the voluntary sector.  New leaf promises to contribute fully to the ongoing research in the field in the hope that we can truly begin to track peoples rehabilitation out into the community.

Please take the time out to vote for us and help us to focus on the potential of people rather than the pasts of people, it is there the magic happens and people manage to finally turn over a new leaf…

To vote for the NEW LEAF  INITIATIVE EMPLOYMENT PILOT, please visit WWW.PEOPLESPROJECTS.ORG.UK and follow the voting page instructions there.

Big love,