Bishop welcomes relaunch of ex-offender service
The Bishop of Lichfield has welcomed the relaunch of a service aimed at helping ex-offenders free themselves from a cycle of crime.
The RESTART project is run by Stoke-on-Trent charity Saltbox, which incorporates the North Staffs Community Chaplaincy Project.
Bishop Jonathan Gledhill praised the way in which the project was working with ex-offenders to provide them with the necessary skills to settle into society.
"It is a marvellous outworking of the Christian belief that all people, no matter what they have done nor how they feel about themselves, have worth in the sight of God," he said.
"We often talk about 'sharing the love of God' but we could equally talk of 'investing in people' – the two can be the same as we see at RESTART."
Offenders are collected by project workers at the prison gates and provided with housing.
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They sign a licence agreement with the project and are expected to volunteer at least two days a week on tasks like house maintenance, gardening, painting and decorating, and furniture restoration.
Their lunch and bus fares are all provided to enable them to take part.
RESTART chief executive Lloyd Cooke said: "We don't want free labour, we want to build a relationship.
"Conversation is steered away from drugs and drink and focussed towards positive outcomes such as family life."