Roehampton students’ report aids Upper Room’s award-winning project for ex-offenders

Roehampton’s Department of Social Sciences students delivered a vital report for Upper Room, a charity who support ex-offenders, to aid in sustaining their award-winning project, UR4Driving.

Posted: 2 June 2016

Final year students, under the supervision of Dr Michal P. Garapich, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, carried out an evaluation of the Big Lottery funded project, UR4Driving, a driving school initiative where ex-offenders learn how to drive and obtain a driving licence. The students collected data provided by Upper Room and conducted interviews with former and current participants within the programme.

Adelina Curri, a BSc Criminology student said: “Taking part of this research to support ex-offenders was at first a daunting challenge. However, at the same time it was such an important project to be a part of that I found little by little everything fell into place. I’m so glad that I could help Upper Room continue their amazing project.”

The student’s research focused on how the ex-offender’s lives changed as a result of being members of the driving school or from obtaining their driving licence. Overall, they found that the programme helped ex-offender’s to improve their life skills and confidence. It also prepared them for future employment opportunities.

Annalyn Samonte Pike, another BSc Criminology student said: “I learned so many new skills and am proud to have been part of this rewarding project.”

The successes outlined within the report has been utilised by Upper Room in applying for future funding opportunities and aid for sustaining the programme and has resulted in a grant for £35,000 from the Henry Smith Charity.

Elaine Reeve, Project Coordinator at Upper Room said: “The results of the research conducted by the students at Roehampton have been invaluable for us to present alongside grant applications in keeping our project viable. It has also taught us how to improve and form a strategy to continue into the future.

It can be quite challenging to engage with participants in the programme, and the students should be really proud of their perseverance and achievements. We are really pleased to have been chosen for the study and look forward to working with Roehampton in the future, and wish all students involved the best of success.”

The Upper Room is a front line charity working with socially and economically disadvantaged people from some of the most deprived areas of London. The UR4Driving project won the Big Society Award which was awarded by David Cameron in 2013.

Dr Garapich said: “This project gave our students a challenging yet exciting opportunity to do a concrete piece of research that is of crucial value to society. This experience has been vital for in helping our students in their future careers.”

The Department of Social Sciences offers outstanding courses that provide students with the critical thinking skills needed to be a global citizen and effect social change. We are ranked best university in London for Criminology and we are ranked third in London for Sociology. (Guardian University Guide 2017).

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