Unlocking potential: Somerset charity Key4Life scoops national CSJ award

Based in the heart of the Somerset countryside, Key4Life has established itself as one of the most successful organisations turning around the lives of some of the most prolific young offenders in the country.

CSJ awards 2018 – Key4Life – Rt Hon Ester McVey MP, Anthon, founder Eva Hamilton, Penny Marshall and Amanda Platell

In recognition of its achievements it will be presented with the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) award for employment, education and skills at a ceremony in London last night (Tuesday 13th March). The award is given each year an outstanding organisation focused on helping children and young people to reach their full potential.

Key4Life has honed its methods for mentoring, training and upskilling young offenders over five years and is now recording astonishing results. While nationally three in four young offenders re-offend two years post-release, among Key4Life participants, the figure is as low as 14 per cent.

One year post release, nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of participants are in employment compared to the national average of fewer than one in six (15 per cent).

Key4Life works within prisons and outside in communities and schools where deprivation is high. The mentoring provided aims to help the young person to understand and change their underlying attitudes, behaviours and aspirations, while also addressing their confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

CSJ awards 2018 – Key4Life – Founder Eva Hamilton

Key4Life also organises work experience for ex-offenders or young people at risk of committing crime in local companies, which often result in the offer of long-term employment.

Key4Life’s success has resulted in their being approached by the Metropolitan Police and several London schools to replicate their success in the capital.

Andy Cook, chief executive of the Centre for Social Justice commented:

“Key4Life succeeds because it treats the whole person – from mental health needs to supporting the young person emotionally and building aspirations to providing skills necessary to achieve employment.

“The charity understands many young people they treat have been caught up in gang life. Often they have experienced serious youth violence and suffered trauma.

“The support, choice and direction provided by Key4Life builds the foundations upon which young offenders can rebuild their lives.

“There are as many as 20,000 young people under 25 years old are in prison. It costs taxpayers £55,000 per year to imprison each young offender.

“It is in all our interests to get those numbers down. If Key4Life has unlocked the secret behind cutting re-offending, there is huge potential in rolling its model out nationwide and seeing those unacceptably high numbers fall.”

The CSJ awards ceremony was held last night (Tuesday 13th March) at the high-end hotel 8 Northumberland Avenue off Trafalgar Square and hosted by Amanda Platell, the Daily Mail columnist and former press secretary to William Hague. The founder and chief executive of Key4Life, Eva Hamilton MBE, accepted the award, which was presented by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Rt Hon Esther McVey MP and ITV News journalist Penny Marshall.

The Centre for Social Justice, founded in 2004 by the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, seeks effective solutions to the poverty that blights parts of Britain.

The CSJ awards celebrate and reward the work of voluntary organisations who are not only helping people to turn their lives around but who are also implementing innovative ways to address and prevent the root causes of poverty.

The competition is open to small charities and voluntary groups from across the UK who are finding local solutions to local problems and ultimately helping people towards an independent lifestyle. From hundreds of applicants every year, just a handful of the best initiatives are chosen. The work they do is largely unnoticed though its impact is profound.

Each winning organisation receives a £10,000 cash prize, donated by sponsors, and the runners-up are invited to join the Centre for Social Justice Alliance, a network of ‘poverty-fighting’ organisations that contribute to the policy work of the CSJ, and to which the CSJ offers practical support.