History, team and what we do.

Bali & LennoxRefocus was birthed after Lennox Rodgers ran a pilot project in 2005. He was asked by an organisation to lead an open discussion with a gang, which led to very positive outcomes.

As a result of this work, Refocus which was at this time Lennox recognised that he had something unique to offer the community, especially young people who are involved in crime or are vulnerable to alcohol and drugs.

Since 2004, Lennox and his wife Bali Rodgers set up the Charity Refocus and have continued to work with young people at risk of offending and has now developed in to a reputable project that is working to achieve its aims within local communities and we have one full time worker and one part time worker.


Client Profile

The first 6 months of Refocus in 2004, we worked with 50 young people, through two pilot projects. The young people that were talked to belonged to a well known gang that was causing some problems in South East of London. The group consisted of mainly males and some females and 60% of the group were from African Caribbean backgrounds and the rest were from white British and British Asian background.

During May 2005 – 2006 we reached 300 young people through talks that were delivered to youth clubs and gangs; this work was requested by schools, youth services and drugs agencies in Bexley and Kent and Refocus did this on a voluntary basis. The group were from mixed backgrounds and consisted mainly of young males.

In 2006 – 2007, as a result of fundraising, which increased our capacity and profile, we were able to increase the numbers of young people we worked with to 800. In 2007 – 2008 we reached over 1000 young people who were on the verge of crime and had experimented with drugs the feedback from 85% of them, was that all of their friends should experience Refocus and that it is a positive service reaching young people.

This year 90% of young people we spoke to said they would reconsider their actions and definitely do not want to go to prison. In this year services have informed us that out of the 1500 young people that have experiences Refocus talks, mentoring or/and prison visit young people have reconsidered their actions.

Team

We value learning and development for staff and volunteers; staffs are currently undertaking a range of different professional development programmes and already hold relevant NVQs. Learning is seen as integral to the work and a continuous process. Ex service users volunteer within the project, ensuring that the service remains relevant and highly effective. Staffs ensure that they are up-to-date with legislative and other changes to ensure that advice is always appropriate.

Service Profile

Target group

Our target age group is children and young people, aged between 11 and 18. Refocus provides group work/open discussions and prison tours to the following:

  • Young people who are being excluded from school for fixed terms or permanently.
  • Young people who are already involved in the criminal justice system. (in partnership with the Youth Offending Team)
  • Gangs who are involved in terrorising local communities.
  • Target Specific community groups such as Somalis, Gypsy Travellers and other Black and Minority Ethnic groups.
  • Young people whom others may influence through peer pressure. (in partnership with schools, PHSE’s, colleges and youth clubs)
  • Young people who are dependent on drugs and alcohol
  • Disadvantaged young people and families from deprived areas.

How we work

This group of young people are often hard to reach and do not engage with services but are attracted to Refocus because of the real life experiences which break down barriers automatically which leaves more room to target specific issues quicker. This has been one of the strengths of our approach.

One of our unique points is that we work with this group when others do not always try or don’t succeed and our education has covered a wide variety of subjects that have been relevant to the young people. Our approach helps hard to reach/disengaged young people and those with specialist needs who wouldn’t sit and necessarily listen to education in a classroom approach.

We work in different ways, primarily with groups but, at times 1 -1, according to the needs of the young person, including:

  • Talking to and educating young people, about drugs, crime and the law; our workers are ex offenders who have first hand real life experiences from being involved in armed robberies, serious violence, drug and alcohol abuse and drug dealing.
  • We take young people into prisons to give them a firsthand look at what life is like inside a prison;
  • We take young people to see court trials so that they can see what it’s like to face trial for some of the crimes some young people commit i.e. violent offences and drug dealing
  • Increase support for young people and drugs and alcohol issues. Refocus services will increase access for young people who have drug/alcohol issues and provide support.
  • Help excluded young people: We aim to increase the numbers of young people getting help to stop their criminal behaviour and as a result both reduce the number of exclusions and help excluded young people re-enter education.

"In terms of economic activity, some 500 young people aged 16-18 are not in education, employment of training (NEET)”. (Bexley Borough statistics 2008)

Current Services

Work in schools

Refocus works both in schools on a range of programmes, primarily PHSE, and also with Pupil Referral Units; our work reinforces the work of other professionals.

Work with youth clubs

Refocus works in youth clubs; by engaging with young people we deliver group work, around crime, drugs/alcohol, but also some 1 – 1.

Outreach

Refocus likes to get on the young people’s level and go to where they are and visit youth clubs, faith groups, crime prevention programmes. The service engages with young people on the streets and provides mini workshops on education, information and support to young people who are not integrated into youth services.

Types of workshops

Provision

The involvement of an adult or as a young people referred to Refocus as “a real person”, speaking about his journey through alcohol experimentation leading onto dependency, jail and rehab enabled the students to absorb information without possible hurdles such as poor reading, writing, comprehensive skills and identification emotionally.

Forces should utilise a communication strategy that includes the use of ‘Champions’ in the fight against Knife Crime (Lemos and crane 2006) Refocus provides personal experiences to young people aged 11+ around drugs and alcohol , knife crime, gang culture, bullying, racism and provides education around the consequences and law around all of these if appropriate. The programme can be delivered with the current academic timetable to suit the individual requirements. It can also accommodate for the referral of pupil groups that have been targeted as more “at risk” of exclusion, or on the verge of crime or are suspected of having more interest in substances and alcohol misuse.

The workshops are mini sessions in outreach settings or one-off or half-day, formal or informal workshops, in partnership with other organisations in schools, colleges, faith groups, youth services to enable young people to experience the way we work and to start to re-consider their existing behaviour choices; the focus of these workshops can be sharing real life experiences by ex-users and incorporate fact and the law.

  • Prison life and consequences
  • Mini workshops = A short over view delivered in outreach settings.
  • One –two hour workshops
  • Using and creative and innovative approach to education around consequences, by showing the impact of criminal behaviour be it drugs, alcohol, knife crime, gangs and other criminal activities.
  • Show the process of what happens and why you can be arrested and what happens when arrested and sent to prison. Refocus uses their experiences of being bullied in prison and shares other harsh realities of when sentenced.
  • Refocus uses prison props, DVD’s and other relevant literature used in prison.
  • Refocus works in partnership with 3 different prisons and keeps up to date information on prison procedure and information.

Drugs/alcohol

The aim of drug and alcohol talk is to increase pupils’ knowledge and understanding and to clarify their misconceptions around experiences.

As part of Refocus crime prevention and education remit we deliver early intervention education across all key stages. The tailor made workshops covers the danger experienced around specific drugs, i.e. cannabis, solvents, heroin, this in cooperates homelessness, depression, low self esteem, relationships break up, suicide etc. If the conversation leads to questions then the facts and the law are reiterated.

The talk can also in co operate experiences of being under the influence and the dangers of being vulnerable under alcohol and how to stay safe. “When asked, pupils have said they want: their views and opinions listened to, to engage in discussion and debate their drug education to be interesting, involving drama, true-to-life stories and external contributors and drug education to be taught by people who know what they are talking”. “Guidance to schools”. (DFES 2004)

Gun and knife Crime

In conjunction with other partners we aim to address the ongoing concerns of young people and gun and knife crime where appropriate. One hour or half day workshops Refocus shares personal experiences of carrying and using knives and the consequences of doing to encourage young people to live a positive lifestyle and come away from conflict and violence.

They address why a knife or gun could be carried, addressing specific issues around peer pressure, bullying, paranoia, weapon culture etc, Using activities, based on a decision-making card games, helps students learn about actions and consequences, facts and the law "Carrying a knife appears to be more common for young people excluded from mainstream education. Sixteen per cent of mainstream students compared with 46 per cent of excluded young people had admitted having carried a weapon."Lemos & Crane"(2004)

Forces should utilise a communication strategy that includes the use of ‘Champions’ in the fight against Knife Crime. “Lemos & Crane” (2004)

Gang culture

By Refocus sharing their own experiences of being involved in gangs discuss how this relates to young people now. Explore the consequences what being part of gang means. Explore the positives and negatives of being part of this culture. Talk about the dangerous behaviour involved in gangs and how it can put them at risk or others.