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


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

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?

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.

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