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supporting voluntary organisations that work with offenders and their families

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If an ex-offender can get the desistance bit right then employment, if that is the goal, will follow. The continuing journey is not so much about not breaking the law, it's more to do with trying, on a daily basis, to reshape a new identities. The journey in fact requiers an ex-offender to develope not just his own self Identity, he will need a new identity for the work place,a new identity for his social networks
Thanks Frank, a really useful insight and clarification that shedding the 'offender' label and building a new identity / identities is an ongoing daily process. One of the delegates at the conference in the Q&A session suggested that organisations should stop using the terms ex-offender and 'offender learning' - as this would at least be a contribution towards the 'de-labelling/ re-labelling' process. At PET we already have a policy not to use the word offender. Perhaps 'OLASS' (Offender Learning and Skills Service) should be called something else? (PLSS?? Prison Learning and Skills Service?).. any other suggestions?! What do readers think?
I agree entirely - the creation of a new identity for people with criminal records is hampered by limiting negative labels like "ex-offender" or "ex-con". At what point does someone stop being an ex-offender? There's been a movement in the mental health and disability fields to adopt person-first approaches - i.e., rather than use the terms "mentally ill" or "disabled", to refer to the person first: a person with a mental health disorder or a disability. It's about time for the same shift to occur in the criminal justice system, such that we refer to people with criminal histories; people who've been to prison; etc. I recently gave a TEDx talk on this subject, entitled Once a Thief, Always a Thief? You can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGsYBbLVFTY.
Following on from Baillie's comment, that's exactly what we did at Unlock last year. Since I joined the charity in 2007, I never felt comfortable with what we had - "for reformed offenders". It was well intentioned, and moved away from "ex-offender", but still slipped into the same problem. If we're honest, the "language" is a minor point in the grand scheme of things - many people would rightly say that they don't care, they just want help. But thinking more broadly, I think it's a simple but important point. Last year, we looked at how to define the charity. Everyone is different, and sees themselves in different ways, but the common factor is that, for Unlock, we help people with convictions. So, that's what we went with. It's still "a label", but perhaps a more factual one, one that is relevant to the present time?

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