A MENTORING scheme at Thorn Cross YOI has been hailed a success with inmates striving to turn their lives around by helping others.

It sees prisoners trained to offer counselling, support and advice to those being bullied, self harming, depressed, or even suicidal.

Blaine is a mentor. He said: “I wanted to do it to feel like I was giving something back to the community and it makes you feel good when you’re helping other people.

“We help people with any problem, who are at risk.

“You try and relate to it yourself, tell them we know how you feel, try and talk to them to make them feel better so they know that they can get through it.”

Fellow mentor Robert said: “I want to help other young people to show that we aren’t all bad lads and that we can change our lives around.

“We try to reassure them and make sure they know they can come and talk to us.”

Suleen, also a mentor, said: “It’s about helping with anything, whatever they need, whatever we can do.”

Since the scheme began in 2007, 236 prisoners have been trained as mentors at the YOI on Arley Road in Appleton Thorn.

They are picked by staff and interviewed to see if they will suit the role.

The training programme is supported by the Good Samaritans, Child Line and the NSPCC, and inmates can go on to complete formal qualifications in mentoring First started as a way to improve safety and anti-social behaviour in the prison, a report earlier this year by the Independent Monitoring Board said that fights and assaults had been reduced.

But £300,000 secured from Big Lottery in April this year will see the project develop.

Money is now available for project workers to take mentors into schools and community groups to talk to youngsters.

It is hope they will reach 7,500 young people over the next three years.

Blaine added: “You get out in the community, so we can help other young people not to make the same mistakes that we did.”