Date Palm Project Celebrates Its 1st Anniversary
BCBN in partnership with St Mungo’s Broadway and National Zakat Foundation launched The Date Palm Project (Brent) in 2014, seeking to house, mentor and employ Muslim ex-offenders and tackle the disproportionately high rate of re-offending amongst the young Muslim prison population. With your generous support, BCBN was able to raise £205,800 for this ground-breaking initiative in 2014. The DPP was endorsed by respected and influential political figures receiving coverage from the Ministry of Justice and airtime on BBC News. The project has since been managed by NZF and St Mungo’s Broadway.
In marking the DPP’s one year anniversary, Cliff Dymond – St Mungo’s Broadway Area Manager said, “The Date Palm project is one year old. It has become a really supportive, dynamic place to live giving 8 young men at risk of homelessness and re-offending a stable home and base for them to begin their journey of rehabilitation. Their daily activities include, educational and life skills classes, preparing for and searching for work, exercise groups and religious studies, to give meaningful structure in which the residents of the house can express and develop their strengths, hopes and aspirations”
Khalid, a young member of the Date Palm Project told his story, starting from his teenage years as an ambitious and intelligent child who found himself in the wrong company. Involved in criminal activities he was arrested on two separate accounts of robbery and assault. Whilst in prison, Khalid was determined to turn his life around and pursue his higher education. Through the encouragement of his university tutors he graduated from the University of London with a 2:1 classification honours degree.
The Date Palm project is designed for individuals who want to make a break from their past and change their lives for the better. For Khalid, being housed and mentored at the Date Palm Project has enabled him to continue his studies and better his chances of a future career. At the Date Palm Property he found safe accommodation and a fraternity of brotherhood that encouraged him to believe in himself.
Khalid also has access to mentors who explore career options with him, and faith sensitive counselling to allow him to rediscover his purpose in life. He is currently being supported by staff at the Date Palm Project to apply for training and jobs. If you are interested in becoming a business mentor or giving an ex-offender the opportunity to gain experience or secure employment, we will work with you to provide adequate support, training and advice. Young prison-leavers like Khalid need to be given an opportunity to turn their lives around, in an environment that supports the needs of ex-offenders. Through the Date Palm Project he has learned that he isn’t a failure and that as a community we are there to support one another.
The evidence is clear in showing the relationship and positive impact of employment and reduced re-offending rates, by as much as 50% for those who gain employment. BCBN will soon be launching a bespoke programme for businesses and employers to provide mentoring, internships and employment opportunities to young ex-offenders.