Building on the discussions from FoSS 2020, this year our event will focus on men with sexual convictions as well as other marginalised groups. The themes that we will carry forward from last year are - Listening to their narratives, Seen but not heard, Challenging the stakeholders, Collaborative and holistic approaches towards rehabilitation and reintegration. This unique event will begin with a 20 min performance by ‘Beyond the Walls’ group led by Dr Rowan Mackenzie, who works in multiple UK prisons and was awarded a 2021 Butler Trust Commendation for her work facilitating collaborative theatre companies in prison and communities. She works with all populations including having founded the first theatre company in the world for those convicted of sexual offences (Emergency Shakespeare in HMP Stafford). She teamed up with South Yorkshire's Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which funds initiatives to combat the long-term causes of crime, to set up the Beyond the Walls project– a drama group for people re-adjusting to life outside prison. This performance will provide the backdrop for the next segment of the event – a panel discussion, which will include service-user voices and various stakeholders working in the area of continued reintegration of men with previous sexual convictions in order to support desistance and reduce future harm and victimization.
Sexual offences can have a profound effect on individuals as well as entire communities. In the U.K., statistics show that 20% of women and 4% of men have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16. This is equivalent to an estimated 3.4 million female victims and 631,000 male victims. Furthermore, the number of individuals with sexual convictions in society is undeniably growing and this increase is not restricted to prison population.
Approximately 55,000 members of the UK general public have previously been convicted of a sexual offence and are now living in the community, although under certain restrictions as set out by the Sex Offenders’ Register (post the UK’s Sex Offenders Act, 1997). We know that most individuals serving a custodial sentence for sexual offence are subsequently released back into the community and recidivism rates for sexual offences are around 10%. Simply put, approximately 90% of these individuals will not reoffend.
The experience of men convicted of sexual offences in South Yorkshire is that many struggle to come to terms with new-found (in some instances complete and permanent) isolation from family and friends following their conviction. If they are particularly unlucky, their picture or story will feature online and/or go viral on social media. The consequences for some of these men is very often the complete unravelling of the fabric of their lives, resulting in them living a fearful existence in new areas, away from vigilante attacks at their home, which may have also impacted upon their family members. Often, men find themselves out of work when a conviction comes to light and so they lose another pillar of their identity
Men often arrive at Probation in the aftermath of having lost a job, friends, family and having had to move house. Some of the men are themselves traumatised or struggling with the effects of abuse and desire support. It is also important to note that effective reintegration of men with previous sexual convictions breaks the cycle of future victimization and harm and is therefore key in combatting sexual violence. With this in mind, the aim of this event to highlight the above-mentioned themes along with tools and interventions that seem to work in supporting sustainable and holistic reintegration of men with previous sexual convictions and other marginalised groups. The event will culminate with the launch of our new Community Justice Network (CJN).
Come and be a part of the solution!
Dr Madhumita Pandey
This event is open to anyone above the ages of 18.
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