CFEO General Questions
Do I need to have been on the Alpha course to receive support from CFEO?
No. We will support anyone who is willing to receive assistance from a Christian church. The support on offer is mentoring and coaching support related to the 7 pathways (Accommodation, Education, training and employment, Health, Drugs and alcohol, Finance, benefit and debt, Children and families) . In addition to this, if you do want to integrate into a church community, develop your faith, or want to attend an Alpha course we can arrange this.
Do you work with organisations that are not faith-based?
Yes, we work with government bodies, the police and probation services and all those involved in the criminal justice system. We also work with many voluntary and charitable organisations offering complementary services to our own.
What is the Alpha course?
The Alpha course consists of a series of talks addressing key issues relating to the Christian faith. For further information visit: uk.alpha.org
CFEO Referral Questions
What processes are involved when a referral has been made?
In an ideal situation we would like to start the linking process at least 6 months before release. We allow the first 3 months to conduct the necessary assessments, find a supportive church, and identify any additional organisations that need to be involved. The second 3 months is to allow time for the church contact to build a relationship with the inmate. This can include letter writing, prison visits and meeting at the gate.
Do not be deterred from making a referral if you do not fit with this process as we have a lot of experience of arranging support quickly. We understand that timing or situation does not always make it possible to put a referral in 6 months before release.
What if the inmate is released before you complete the process?
If this occurs then we will try and keep in contact with the ex-offender and continue to arrange support for them.
Do you provide employment or accommodation?
As CFEO, we provide ex-offenders with a mentor who coaches the individual to meet their goals. In addition to this we can signpost you towards organisations that do provide alternative services such as accommodation or employment. The mentor then provides assistance in this area such as building a CV, job interview practise, access to I.T, help to complete forms, help with reading and writing, or help to identify additional organisations.
Do you take self referrals?
Yes, we do take self referrals. The inmate will need to write us a letter so we can begin the process.
What churches do you have on your network and where are they?
We have a lot of Christian denominations on our network in the UK so we can find the most appropirate support considering geography and denomination.
CFEO Church network Questions
Does it cost anything to join the CFEO network of churches?
No it is completely free to join the network. If you join the network you will receive a CFEO Handbook for Churches, a Church/Ex-offender Agreement, you will be linked to an advisor in your area, we will inform you of CFEO church training opportunities and other projects running in your area for ex-offenders.
What if we are not ready to support an ex-offender?
There is never an obligation to support an ex-offender if you have signed up to the network. We will discuss what the support will involve and you decide whether you feel able to provide it for the individual. There is a huge variety in terms of the referrals we receive and as a result we have a huge range of churches already providing this support.
We have supported ex-offenders in the past and it has not worked out well, are we doing anything wrong?
Chances are you are not doing anything wrong however we will be more than happy to talk through what you could do to avoid problems in the future. Some individuals may be challenging depending on a variety of factors including whether there are any addiction issues, emotional or mental health problems, if they have accommodation or employment etc. All these factors will contribute toward offending behaviour and it is our challenge to create a good situation to counter this. Although hard, it is important to be aware of this reality and remain persistent if it does not work out first time.
What if the ex-offender we have agreed to support does not engage with us once released?
Be persistent and don’t become disheartened. If possible, periodically try to leave messages and send letters reminding them that they are always welcome to get in contact. It is not entirely unusual for an individual to get back in contact a while after their release so reminders of your care might be very welcome at some point. If they don’t respond then it is not your responsibility to make them get support. You can only give them opportunities to help themselves.
What will CFEO’s involvement be once we support an ex-offender?
Once we have linked an ex-offender to you the support will become your responsibility. We will be here to give advice, support and suggestions, but the responsibility to contact and support the ex-offender will be yours.
What will the ex-offender be expecting of us?
There will be a range of expectations depending on what issues the ex-offender is confronted with, what areas they need support in and how much they want to integrate into the church community. For example, if there are accommodation needs then an expectation might be for 3 hours of contact time a week to search and print off accommodation applications, help filling out forms or assistance organising meetings.
We will provide and talk you through a Church/ex-offender agreement which you will need to complete with the ex-offender. From the start this sets clear expectations and boundaries in place so the ex-offender knows exactly what you will provide and also what is expected of them in return.