National Lottery funding to tackle youth re-offending in Edinburgh
Young people in Edinburgh who are repeat offenders or at risk of offending are amongst thousands of Scots whose lives will be transformed, thanks to almost £1 million of National Lottery funding announced today (WED 17 OCTOBER).
With an award of £84,000, Police Scotland will be able to deliver its youth mentoring programme supported by two adult mentors who have first-hand experience of beating the revolving door back to prison. Police Scotland is one of 11 groups sharing in £923,544 from the Big Lottery Fund.
One of the mentors who is already helping to shape young lives as part of an initial project is Donald Tumilowicz, 45, from West Lothian. Addicted to drugs and alcohol from an early age, Donald spent decades in the criminal justice system. He has been drug free for five years and is now helping prevent young people from going down a similar path.
Donald said: “This project from Police Scotland is so vitally important because there are so many young people out there needing help. We provide a range of peer support, one to one sessions and advice helping to signpost them to other things like training or employability schemes. We are there at the end of a phone 24/7 and they can contact either one of us at any time to share their worries or concerns.
“As someone who spent most of his life caught up in the system using my addictions to boost my confidence and self-esteem I want to help stop other young people making the same mistakes as I did. Doing this work has changed my life.”
One of these young people is Lucien Okoth, 17, from Edinburgh. Lucien said: “I was caught up in drugs and my crimes were all about getting the money to feed my habit. I was in the cells when I was introduced to the mentors Donald and Kevin and straight away I saw myself in them. Something just clicked and I think it was an inspirational person telling me their story which was one I could relate to.
“They’ve supported me in lots of ways and even helped to get me into work as a canoeing instructor and bike mechanic. I know I can always go to them if I need to and this has given me real structure, goals to work towards and a chance to get my life together.”
Chief Inspector, Gill Geany from E Division, Police Scotland, said: "We are very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for supporting our project that will inspire young people to break the cycle of re-offending. The money will assist the funding of two peer mentors, who will engage with and empower vulnerable young people to break the cycle of re-offending and pick up their shattered lives and assist them to make positive decisions and changes. This will in turn strengthen communities, transform lives, reduce crime and the impact it has on victims."
Announcing today’s funding, Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, today’s £923k investment will reach into many communities across Scotland and will transform the lives of local people. Some funding will be used to expand a unique pilot mentoring project to continue changing the direction of even more young lives in Edinburgh. Lucien’s story shows the importance of this work and how this project offers a range of tailored support to young people when they need it the most.”
- Date published