Fife Council’s drive to get the ‘Best’ from people on community sentences

The 'Best of You' programme is aimed at challenging people taking part to explore their behaviours and attitudes.
The 'Best of You' programme is aimed at challenging people taking part to explore their behaviours and attitudes.

Fife Council has joined forces with an award winning programme to help people serving community payback orders to move onto a positive future.

The council’s criminal justice social work team has been working with the founder of the ‘Best of You’ programme Mark Brown for just over two years with 59 people taking part in the programme over that time. Now there are plans for six more programmes in 2018.

Ryan McCallum, team manager explains: “The Best of You” programme is aimed at challenging people taking part to explore their behaviours and attitudes while learning skills and tools that allow them to reflect on their offending behaviour.

“It also helps with new skills as they move towards employment or training. People take part in the week-long programme as part of an overall package of requirements that can be imposed under a Community Payback Order (CPO), which can also include unpaid work.”

One participant who took part in the programme last year said: “As soon as I walked in, I felt welcome and put at ease. The group was supportive of each other and I felt that I wasn’t the only person who had been through certain life experiences.

“The talks were really upbeat which gave me enthusiasm for the future which I had been lacking.

“Just prior to the group I had been successful in securing a new job and had been feeling anxious about it.

“The group gave me the motivation to view it differently, as an opportunity and not to place limits on myself in the future.”

The council’s employability team also offer support to those taking part in the “Best of You” programme and a high number move on to work experience, training and employment.

Ryan added: “Working together we can make a real difference to people’s future prospects following offending behaviour.

“We have seen higher levels of engagement, higher levels of self-respect, self-belief and confidence, as well as a reduction in offending behaviour, post-programme.

“To really reduce offending and reoffending we need to reject the behaviours and not the people involved.

“We have to work preventatively and make sure everyone in Fife is treated fairly and with the same opportunity to improve their future.”