Thirteen dogs rehomed thanks to scheme with prisoners in Norwich
PUBLISHED: 17:13 31 December 2017 | UPDATED: 19:46 31 December 2017
A scheme where dogs are used in Norwich Prison to help rehabilitate prisoners has proved such a success that what started as a 12 week pilot project has now been running for a year.
The project was started after a chance meeting between Norfolk police and crime commissioner Lorne Green and Michele Neave, founded of Norwich Best For Pets.
Mr Green, himself a dog lover, had spoken with the prison about whether dogs, which have been used in places like hospices to help those in need, could be used to help rehabilitate offenders, by giving them something positive to focus on.
He provided initial funding for a scheme called Rescue-Rehab, which was originally meant to be just a pilot project - but is still going.
Ms Neave said: “The immediate benefits of the programme mean that what was originally scheduled to be a 12 week pilot study completed its first year during December 2017.
“An aspiration of the police and crime commissioner has been made a reality and Norwich Best For Pets have established an exemplary and sustainable project.
“In this first year 17 prisoners have participated in the Rescue-Rehab programme; five of these gaining a level of confidence and proficiency to lead a training session.
“This aspect of the programme allows the prisoners to re-learn vital decision making and leadership skills that will be essential upon their release.
“And 15 rescued dogs have received socialisation and intensive training at the prison, leading to 13 of these dogs being rehomed.”
The project has also been supported by the Norfolk Community Foundation and its members, including the Paul Bassham Charitable Trust, the Love Norfolk Fund and the Geoffrey Watling Charity; together with the Rotary Club of Norwich Centenary.
And Ms Neave said: “I look forward with confidence that during 2018, further collaboration with HMP Norwich will allow the Rescue-Rehab programme to realise its widest potential.
“It addresses prisoner mental health welfare and well-being issues, together with enhancing education and personal development opportunities that may lead to a reduction in reoffending.”