POMOST – model of active support forms to the penalized persons

1.03.2013 – 30.06.2015 – project conducted in cooperation with the Employment Office in Zgierz and with the Polish Federation of the Associations of Traders and Enterprisers, co-financed by the European Union from the European Social Fund within the framework of the Operational Programme Human Capital

„It’s not a problem to leave the prison but to handle the liberty”
in Rysiek’s  – previous prisoner’s – words.

He and many others, male and female beneficiaries, have participated during one year in the project co-financed by the European Union with the European Social Fund that is testing the functioning of new support tool prepared for persons, which have left jails and encounter difficulties to handle their new social and occupational reality after being released.

Project is named “Pomost” (the Bridge) – a model of active support form destined for previous prisoners. The project is carried out by the “Uwolnienie” foundation and its partners: the District Labour Office in Zgierz and the Polish Association of Traders and Entrepreneurs.

The so called “Activation Centre” is an innovative support tool of our project.

It’s a place where each person leaving penitentiary entity can undertake various team activities aiming at finding jobs for all participants. It’s an alternative to less effective individual job searches and struggles undertaken by persons released from jails.

The Activation Centre is well-equipped with computers and other necessary office equipment and accessories, and the beneficiaries are being prepared to use the Centre through their participation in trainings of their competences, in vocational trainings and in occupational activation activities offered by concrete employers.

Before the release of the penitentiary entity, the imprisoned persons are taking part in competence trainings sessions, including standard and specialised preparatory job seeking courses and other trainings like certified Aggression Replacement Training (ART).

Due to those trainings it becomes easier for them to compete with the other labour market participants and to keep the job and to have the chances of normalisation of their relations with the closest environment. The chances of returning to the criminal activity are lowering.

Those trainings, in the framework of the project, have been realised in cooperation with the Jail number 1 and custody in Lodz.

After being released, former prisoners could come to the Activation Centre at Więckowskiego 62 Street, in order to be able to continue the participation in all activities prepared for them within this project.

The Activation Centre:

The Activation Centre is supported by specialists from partner institutions from Zgierz, from foundation “Uwolnienie” and from the employer’s organisations (co-founders of the Centre). The support delivered in the Activation Centre is adjusted to individual needs and potential and finding a job depends on the individual activity and own determination of the beneficiary.

Each participant of the Centre gains the chance of making positive change and taking advantage of the encouraging and supportive environment that minimizes most of the fears, barriers, constraints and habits imprinted by the conditions of penitentiary isolation.

Our beneficiaries take part in voluntary activities helping with the organisation of urban events.

The celebration of the „1 May” in Aleksandrów Łódzki in 2014:

The useful product of the project is specially edited Guide, containing practical advice and instructions for the future user of the activation tool, operating under different institutional conditions – nongovernmental organisations, labour market institutions and social support institutions and business entities as well. The guide was established based on the experiences of all participants, being collected during the cooperation period in the framework of the project and is more or less the instruction how to introduce this new but already tested support method.

The most important effectiveness indicator of the new tool is the number of the beneficiaries finding employment after having used of this new support form.

The results of the Activation Centre activities’ during the realisation phase of the project are very promising.

The statistics of the project, compared to the statistics of the other vocational development institutions show, that with the same means spent ,our beneficiaries get an employment three times quicker, what is showing the efficiency of the new tool.

We count that after introducing this innovation into the national support system the imprisoned will be better prepared for active job search and will be able to handle better various life situations in forms socially accepted, without aggression and violence.

The support assistance and the support institutions will gain access and possibility to use this new, effective and efficient tool for groups of people having huge difficulties on the labour market. Due to the cooperation of different institutions, including penitentiary entities, in the realisation of the tasks, this innovation will use in optimal way all possibilities and resources of the collaborating environments.

A place like the Activation Centre can occur to be “the missing link “in smooth movement from institutional isolation condition to the freedom based and socially mature choices leading to taking responsibility for the choices, especially in the context of many voices on the need to introduce the needed changes in the framework of the rehabilitation policy and dealing with persons leaving penitentiary entities.

The Activation Centre faces such expectations. It allows the continuity of readjustment activities towards a person punished in all spheres of her or his life – personal, social and occupational.

According to the achievement introducing of this tool into social policy, will help to limit the number of the persons landing repetitively in jail, what will set not only the significant social meaning framework but will have economic impact as well, because the expenditure for maintenance of prisoners will be lowered and the period of the social assistance to the persons with prison terms will be shortened.

Simulations of job interviews with the employer in Activation Centre:

Dorota Gajić
Main supervisor of the Activation Centre