Providing access to activities relatively early in their journey back into the community gets Participants used to the discipline needed in work while also building valuable employment skills such as team work, self-discipline and following instruction. They also give structure to otherwise chaotic lives. Activities are selected for their ability to engage Participants, to build their skills and to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing.
Our activities are arranged by our Mentors working alongside specialists in the relevant area such as artists, gym instructors and photographers.
Our Mentors are well trained and experience in dealing with our clientele, most of them having either lived-experience including having served custodial sentences or family members who have offended.
On commencing the programme each Participant is assigned a Mentor – who works with them to build their own Personal Action Plan. This Plan outlines their needs and identifies areas fordevelopment. The Mentors then provide ongoing and consistent mentoring support and advice advice to help in the Participants’ journey back into the community, work, volunteering or education.
Working holistically allows a knowledge of skills and an understanding that will enable issues to be resolved more quickly, services to be identified at the point of need and a better-targeted approach to employment or education when ready to take that step.
Our Mentors are responsible for organising and overseeing the engagement activities allowing relationships to be built while working on tasks or participating in activities (listed below) in a way that is informal and non-threatening. Quiet conversations can take place while Participants are busy and they are more likely to share when they are engaged in practical activities.
Although our Mentors always seek to enable Participants to move on in their lives and become independent members of communities, this is not always a quick process for some whose lifestyle or mental health issues are entrenched. As a result we do not put arbitrary limits on the length of time that people can work with us, providing they are engaging and making progress towards their goals.
Individuals with long standing substance abuse or mental health issues need to move at their own pace in pursuit of their personal goals and independence.
Our Mentors frequently go above and beyond their job descriptions in order to help a Participant in crisis with housing, mental health, personal or family issues. They not only signpost to the relevant agencies but will spend considerable time organising appointments or accompanying the Participant to ensure that they are able to access the services when and how they need it.
Activities currently available are:
Using simple tools Participants make products which are then sold within the Emmaus shop to support small grants to meet essential needs that help people get back on their feet.
Working closely with Mamba Gym our Participants learn the discipline and art of boxing which helps their mental and physical wellbeing and encourages them to look after their bodies rather than abuse them with substances.
The benefits of fishing for well-being are well documented, so much so it is now being prescribed by Doctors to aid mental health. Funded by the Angling Trust, weekly sessions are run over a period of eight weeks each with up to seven participants per group. Participants are supplied with the relevant tackle, coaching and the project is based initially at Stanborough Lake which is central to Hertfordshire and has excellent fishing stocks and facilities. This has been supported by a Participant who is a lifelong fishing enthusiast and has now graduated to become a registered HACRO volunteer to help run the weekly activity.
Funded by the LTA, tennis runs for two hours per week – with each session facilitated by a coach and a member of HACRO. In some instances, Police Officers also sometimes attend. Participants interested in pursuing a coaching qualification will be mentored by coaches and move on to run peer-led sessions. The tennis activity was initially piloted by working with a Participant who rediscovered his love of tennis and who was a qualified Tennis Coach. This has provided a blueprint for a wider rollout which is being developed in conjunction with officers from the LTA Central and East Regional team and Herts Tennis Association. HACRO won the 2023 Regional LTA Award for Connecting Communities.
The Sanctuary Studio in Watford provides us with all aspects of a studio, instruments, sound engineering and chance to record tracks. They also promote new musicians by giving free studio time.
Community Support Projects
We carry out many activities for Charites and Social enterprises such as decorating, gardening and general refurbishment which provides Participants with new skills and a sense of community contribution.
St Albans Museum hosted an art therapy project for our Participants last autumn. The output from the art course, featuring Curious Crimes, is currently on display in the old Victorian cells under the museum. Participants researched some of the crimes for which people had been convicted in the Victorian court housecourthouse and drew their inspiration from these. Since it went on display over 12,000 people have visited the exhibition. Do visit!