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CLI director says relationships are key to tackling prejudice and shaking off stigma

CLI director says relationships are key to tackling prejudice and shaking off stigma

An article published in the Guardian recently by, Stephen Whitehead, a programme manager at the Centre for Justice Innovation, says people leaving prison struggle to shake off the stigma and access support – but goes on to say there are places where imaginative training and simple technology have helped. Read the full article here.

CLI operational director Peter Atherton responded to the article with an open letter to the Guardian:

“I read Stephen Whitehead’s article with interest and felt I had to get in touch. I am someone who would be labelled as an ‘ex-offender’ but the label is just that, as I am also an entrepreneur who co-founded the social enterprise Community Led Initiatives since leaving prison. We work with people across England to turn their lives around through peer mentoring.

Your piece highlights the role of advice to tackle the prejudice – I’d argue that relationships are the key to this.

Professionals talk about changing behaviour and offender identities, but with these labels they build walls between themselves and the very people they set out to help.

I say, quit the jargon and just treat us like any other person that you want to build a genuine and honest relationships with.

What I wanted – and needed – more than anything when I left prison was someone who understood my fears and had belief in my ambitions to change.

CLI is a grassroots organisation that is transforming lives. We treat everyone we support as an individual not a statistic, because we know how that feels. By working with statutory agencies to rebuild relationships and turn around failing services, 7 out of 10 people we mentor are less likely to reoffend – the results speak for themselves.”

If you’d like an informal chat about the CLI approach to explore working with us, please contact us on 0300 047 8740 or email

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