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New programme aims to improve the lives of young people on leaving custodial settings

University of Gloucestershire’s Dr Adeela Shafi MBE has played a key role in developing a new education and personal development programme for young people preparing to integrate into society after a custodial sentence.

Dr Shafi, Associate Professor within the University’s School of Education and Humanities, collaborated with partners from the UK, Italy, France and Greece on the EU-funded Skills4Life After Prison Curriculum.

The Curriculum aims to support young people in custodial settings to integrate back into the community at the end of their sentence, focusing on self-development, working with others, life skills and moving into employment or training.

The Curriculum builds on Dr Shafi’s research and work in leading on the Active Games for Change (AG4C) and RENYO (Re-Engaging Young Offenders in Education) projects, which have made a difference to the lives of hundreds of young people.

S4L, AG4C and REYNO all work towards enabling young people in custodial settings to develop skills and competencies they may not have gained in school or at home.

Dr Adeela Shafi (far right, bottom row) with international partners on the Skills4Life After Prison Curriculum

Dr Shafi said: “Many children and young people who find themselves in custodial settings have missed out on the organic opportunities provided by being in school to develop social and emotional competencies, the chance to learn about working with others, developing their CVs, or making life choices and other decisions. 

“The Curriculum has designed innovative pedagogical techniques designed for the needs of the young people in custodial settings. 

“It is also based on interviews with 80 young people in the partner countries of Italy, France, Greece and the UK to understand what they believe they need to best support them on transitioning back in to the community.”

Dr Shafi and her international partners are training prison educators on the Curriculum, with a view to piloting the programme in custodial settings in the UK, Italy, France and Greece.

Dr Shafi said: “Our long-term ambition is for all custodial settings in the UK and partner countries to be using the S4L Curriculum to improve the life chances of the young people involved.”