Source : 31/07/2000 Northampton Chronicle and Echo
Prisoners are being taken under the wing of the Jesus Fellowship to help them cope with life on the outside.
The Christian group, based in Nether Heyford, has launched the Heartcry prison release programme to prevent convicts falling back into a life of crime.
As part of the programme, inmates are approached up to six months prior to their release and offered two weeks' free accommodation, together with job training and help with finding work.
John Campbell, the Jesus Fellowship's communications officer, said: 'The problem is that many prisoners don't have anywhere to go when they are released.'
'They often end up in hostels with other former inmates, with no jobs and no hope for the future. This is often a guaranteed route to re-offending and they never break the cycle of crime and prison.'
The Jesus Fellowship, which is planning to open a large Northampton worship centre in the town's former Cannon cinema, is working with two inmates in the pilot scheme and hopes to extend it further in the future.
Mr Campbell said: 'In the past, we have worked with prisoners on an informal basis and this programme will allow us to put down a more formal strategy to helping inmates.'
'We obviously have to be very careful which people we pick, but, by making contact with them in advance of their release, we are able to determine who will respond best and it is generally those who have renewed their faith or discovered Christianity for the first time while inside.'
'Ultimately, we want to give these people hope for the future by helping them find settled accommodation, with new friends and a Christian faith.'