“If someone had said to me a year ago that I’d be making plans to go to college, I wouldn’t have believed them. But Stepping Out has opened up a new world of possibilities for me. It’s basically given me my life back.” These are the words of Ruth, a participant on Stepping Out, National Learning Network’s innovative programme which is based in Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Stepping Out is specifically designed to assist people who have been to prison or who are on probation to rebuild their lives.”
Funded by the Probation Service in partnership with SOLAS and the Local Education and Training Board, Stepping Out aims to work with participants from the midlands region to prevent them from re-offending, to enhance their employment opportunities and to increase access to further education.
Stepping Out has supported hundreds of people since its inception
Stepping Out has supported over 220 people with wide-ranging needs relating to their drug or alcohol addictions, history of offending behaviours and poor education or lack of work experience.
Stepping Out operates at a number of stages, from in-reach in the prison and outreach in the community, right through to follow-up aftercare and one-to-one support. The programme has a continuous intake and all the participants complete an assessment procedure that includes both an educational and health appraisal prior to joining.
Programme modules include IT, literacy and mathematics, as well as healthy living, arts and craft, offending behaviour, conflict resolution and confidence-building. Stepping Out staff work closely with the Probation Service and with the local community alcohol and drug services on an ongoing basis. By working together, a cohesive and structured programme can be put in place for each individual participant; one that offers support and maximises opportunities.