Preston North End Community and Education Trust [PNECET]’s DIVERT programme, a custody intervention for young people, has had a transformational effect on one client by helping him to find new employment and a revitalised outlook on life.
The DIVERT programme is delivered in police custody suites across the country, reaching young people to provide them with training, education and employment opportunities through a professional football club.
It was through Preston North End – one of seven clubs in the county that has delivered the programme in Lancashire since March 2020, each employing a Custody Intervention Coach [CIC] – that Max FIRST engaged on DIVERT last year when he met PNECET CIC Ria Barker.
Each club’s CIC is based in a police custody suite across Lancashire and approaches young people with the offer of support in a number of areas, in a confidential, free-of-judgement manner – an offer which remains open once an individual has left custody.
DIVERT aims to reduce the risk of reoffending among young people upon their release from police custody.
Max first engaged on the programme while in custody last year. His mental health had been negatively impacted in previous years, stemming from a misdiagnosis of a serious neck injury and discontent under previous employment, among other issues.
After his release, Max re-engaged with DIVERT, which led to regular contact with Ria, whether in-person or otherwise. Together, Max and Ria agreed to focus on him having more stability. Ria helped Max to improve his CV, discuss interview techniques and highlight the importance of a healthy and balanced lifestyle to provide him with a focus and purpose.
Reflecting on his situation and first meeting with PNECET, and how his life has progressed since, Max said: “Coming out of lockdown, I found myself in a bit of a mess with situations and scenarios in my life. I ended up getting into trouble a lot and was in and out of police stations.
“One morning, I had a knock on the cell and it was the DIVERT team and I went out and spoke to Ria. Ever since, my life has been helped to be brought back on track, going for interviews and applying for jobs, and I’ve finally got a job. I’ve been successful in that job and have been promoted rather quickly.
“Having that outside opinion and outside source of support and communication around me has just helped massively.”
On how his mental health had been impacted by past events, Max added: “Mentally I was shot, which I think is why I was going in and out of police stations and things like that.
“I did have a job but lost it and I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t think I was going to get anywhere near what I was doing. Ria helped me with my CV, tweaked it and I sent it off.
“I’d heard nothing from it and then all of a sudden, I was with Ria having a coffee and my phone rang and it was the company I’m working for now [to offer him a job]. It’s spiralled from there and it’s been brilliant.”
Prior to meeting Ria, Max had felt going into police custody would continue to be a familiar path for him, but he has been grateful for the impact that DIVERT has had on his life.
“Ria’s always been there supporting me, asking if I needed anything, helping me with anything I wanted really.
“I can phone and just have a rant if I’m feeling bad, or if I’m really struggling with something, I know I can text or ring her and just be able to open up, be honest and share with her in a safe place without having to struggle to feel you’re going to be judged.”
PNECET’s DIVERT programme has led to positive outcomes for 16 clients in the last year, while 83% of those who have been referred through custody have engaged on the programme.
The DIVERT programme now also has a youth strand, engaging with 10 to 16-year-olds to prevent them from entering the criminal justice system.
For more information about our DIVERT provision, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.