£75,000 pledged by councillors for Fife team which works with offenders
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It works with people who are the subject of Community Payback Orders and the ultimate goal of the service is to reduce criminal reoffending.
But at the moment, the JSW team is fighting fires and doing crisis work rather than focusing on its main goals. On Wednesday, Levenmouth Area Committee councillors agreed to assist with £75,000 funding over the next two years.
The money will pay for the council to hire a specialist welfare support worker based within the team. Councillors were told that the new role will ultimately undertake crisis prevention work in the area.
“The whole concept around this is to try to prevent crises and deal with clients in a way that’s more measured and more coherent and allows them to get back into mainstream life while also preventing the crisis situations which we seem to deal with on a regular basis,” committee members were told.
“The JSW’s main focus is to reduce reoffending, but some of the issues we have is that we are working very much in a crisis intervention way at the moment. People are turning up in crisis and we are dealing with that [rather than our main goal].”
A committee report continued: “Staff often find themselves having to initially work to address crisis situations, taking the focus away from the core work of reducing re-offending.”
JSW staff are not trained to navigate the specialised and complex welfare systems. The new position aims to fill that gap.
Committee councillors fully and unanimously supported the investment, but concerns were raised about the long term sustainability of the role.
“Everyone is very keen to support the initiative but there are concerns about its sustainability and requests for evidence that it is making a tangible difference for families on the ground,” committee convener Colin Davidson (Labour for Leven, Kennoway and Largo) said.
The new support worker role is the first of its kind in Fife and the funding will be drawn from the Local Community Planning (LCPB) Anti-Poverty fund.
The position could be up and running as soon as December depending on the hiring process.