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Adam Connolly

COMMENDEE 2018-19: Adam, from Sefton Council for Voluntary Service, receives a Commendation for his inspiring leadership of the Merseyside Offender Mentoring Project, which provides mentoring and befriending support to offenders from HMP Liverpool, both in custody and after release.

Adam’s Initial Nominator and Senior Project Worker, Kim Hanafin, quotes a 2013-14 Butler Trust Award winner, Andy Laidlaw, Head of Reducing Reoffending at HMP Liverpool, who has worked with Adam for over 8 years at both HMP Liverpool and HMP Risley, and first met him in 2011 when he was instrumental in pioneering the MOMs mentoring scheme for men leaving HMP Liverpool:

‘Thanks to Adam’s tireless efforts, this project has helped hundreds of people to successfully re-integrate into the Merseyside community and avoid the revolving door that had traditionally seen many of them return to prison. It was unique in the level and kind of support it offered and it is now being copied/imitated elsewhere. In the last two years Adam has successfully extended the mentoring service to HMP Risley and his tenacity and can do attitude has seen the service offered by MOMs expand to male and female prisons across the North West.’

Andy adds, ‘Adam is a pleasure to work with. His positivity and energy are infectious and I can categorically state that Adam has been responsible for helping to reduce re-offending.’ (He further notes that Adam received a recommendation from Sefton Police for his outstanding contributions and support in the fight to reduce re-offending and MOM, and was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2015).

Another colleague, Sergeant Keith Francis of Sefton Integrated Offender Management, says ‘Adam has done more than any other person to forge links between the public and voluntary sectors, particularly within Sefton. He is responsible for establishing the open communication channels that exist today between a number of agencies, and his hard work and dedication have helped the community as a whole to move forward together.’ Keith reports some remarkable data on the success of the project: ‘with Adam at the helm, MOMs has demonstrated consistent success in reducing re-offending. In 2014-15 only 17.9% of offenders who engaged with the project re-offended compared to the national average of 60%. In 2015-16 this decreased to 10% compared to the national average of 44%.’

Local Butler Trust Champion and HMP Liverpool’s Head of Business Assurance, Clare Stanway, says Adam, with his ‘dynamic and collaborative approach, has been able to create and deliver a bespoke service of support that is offered to each individual who is being released through the gate from various prisons including HMPs Liverpool, Kirkham, Haverigg, Altcourse, Risley and Preston. He has also been instrumental in forging partnerships with Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester police, IOM teams, probation, CRC, and PCC’s. His work and leadership has been recognised as being ‘best in practice’ in reducing re-offending behaviour across the five boroughs of Merseyside which is now being rolled out across Cheshire and Greater Manchester through the Risley Mentoring Project.’

Clare explains that many of the project’s volunteer mentors are themselves ex-offenders who, with Adam’s ‘support and empathetic approach’, have, in the last three years alone, ‘given almost 17,000 hours of their time to support our mentees and their families to lead a life free from crime.’

‘Terry’* is a former offender, still on license, who now works for the project. His experience gives an idea of both the personal impact of the project in general, and Adam’s support in particular:

‘I first met Adam in 2014 on the Induction wing in HMP Liverpool; I was a prisoner serving a long sentence… I had never been in trouble before and was unsure of the path that lay ahead of me. Adam gave me some excellent advice and support and I asked could I become a peer mentor for the project while I was serving my sentence. He said I could apply and put me on the training which I done. From the day I started with the project he has always continued to help and support me through the toughest period of my life because if it wasn’t for him and the project I could have just been lost in the system and just become a name and number.’

Liverpool’s Governing Governor, Pia Sinha, recalls coming across Adam’s work 5 years ago when she was Deputy Governor at Liverpool:

‘The project had started and was showing great promise but was limited to a small area within Merseyside. What Adam has achieved in this time is nothing short of phenomenal! His passion, energy and determination has ensured that the scope and therefore the people who have benefited from getting a mentor on release has multiplied. We all know that those early moments after release are the most vulnerable for our men. Adam has taken this simple truth and created a service that meaningfully supports people in the way they need it most, when they need it most. The credibility and spread of the service can be completely attributed to Adam’s tenacity and reputation. The testimonials are a joy to read and show that Adam still has so much to give.’

* Prisoners’ names have been anonymised.

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