Prisoners’ helping hands earn praise

Mark Shear and Matt Idle outside HMP Kirkham. Below: Chris Grayling.
Mark Shear and Matt Idle outside HMP Kirkham. Below: Chris Grayling.
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A SENIOR Conservative minister has highlighted the work of two recovering drug addicts as a way to make the UK’s streets safer.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, outlined steps the Government is to take to reduce reoffending and prison numbers, using the work of staff at Kirkham prison as an example.

Chris Grayling

Chris Grayling

The MP told his party’s conference, of the work of Matt Idle, 40, and Mark Shear, 37, two former prisoners and recovering addicts who have been employed by the Category D prison.

Kirkham made a bold move earlier this year when it employed the pair as part of their Substance Misuse Service.

In his speech to the party conference Mr Grayling said the Government intends to build on Substance Misuse Services in prisons to tackle drug addiction and crimes associated to it.

He said: “We will make more effective use of drug rehabilitation and alcohol treatments to help tackle the root cause of crime and re-offending. In Kirkham prison they have recruited two 
ex-users and offenders as recovery champions to support the Substance Misuse Services.”

Matt and Mark have spent, between them, more than 20 years in prison and far longer addicted to hard drugs.

The pair draw on their own experiences to offer practical advice and support to men coming to the end of prison sentences.

Mr Grayling talked of prison schemes he intends to roll out nationwide, including the employment of Idle and Shear.

Matt, who has been in recovery for six years since going to Pierpoint House in St Annes, said: “We’re really pleased to have been mentioned.

“It’s nice to be recognised for our work.

“We’re hoping they’ll start doing what we’re doing in other prisons.”

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