Second chances for ex-offenders through education

Longford Prize

Longford Prize Winner: The Forgiveness Project

27th November 2014

In their citation, the judges wrote: "Having highly commended the Forgiveness Project in 2007, the judges this year award it the Longford Prize to salute the development of its work, especially its innovative and challenging Restore offender intervention programme.  This is having a real and proven impact on changing how those prisoners who take part in jails around the country think about themselves and their crime.  The Forgiveness Project, now in its tenth year, lives out in a practical, effective way the core belief of Lord Longford in every individual’s potential for rehabilitation.  It is making a significant contribution to reducing reoffending as well as having a wider impact in creating a more positive commitment in our criminal justice system to restorative justice".

Marina Cantacuzino, founder of the Forgiveness Project, received the prize on stage at the 2014 Longford Lecture from Jon Snow, Nils Oberg and Mary Riddell.

The Forgiveness Project

The judges also Highly Commended two other nominations. The first was Mona Morrison.  In their citation, they wrote: "Mona Morrison, the judges believe, is a remarkable and courageous individual who is saving lives through her work with gangs, and especially around the often hidden issue of the sexual exploitation of young people – sometimes children – involved in gangs.  Drawing on her own lifetime experiences, Mona has been able, as part of the St Giles Trust, to establish relationships of trust with vulnerable and traumatised youngsters, who might otherwise be beyond the reach of official agencies, and to transform their lives."

The second was Product of Prison.  The judges wrote: "For the first time the judges are making an award to an overseas organisation because they are keen to draw attention to the extraordinary rehabilitation work of this small Dutch NGO with prisoners in Uganda. It is brave, practical and innovative, operating in circumstances unimaginable in the UK.  It creates new futures for individuals whose lives are often torn apart by hostility and rejection once they are released from jails."

The judges made a Lifetime Achievement Award to the New Horizon Youth Centre.  They wrote in their citation: "Usually reserved for an individual, this year the judges recognize the achievements and on-going work of the New Horizon Youth Centre in north London, founded by Lord Longford in 1968.  Over five decades, this drop-in day centre has maintained an unwavering focus on needy, homeless, alienated and desperate young people.  They can count on it, when they can count on no-one else. Its doors are always open, its welcome is always warm, and its programmes continue to evolve to answer every new challenge, including its current highly successful Creating Positive Futures project".

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