WARRINGTON Borough Council specialists and Cheshire Probation professionals have led the Support 4 Change team to success after being commended with a prestigious national award.

The group earned the accolade at the Howard League for Penal Reform’s community programmes award for their exceptional pioneering work with offenders who suffer from mental health problems.

They also plummeted their way into the finals of the Local Government Association awards earlier this year and received a visit from mental health guru Professor Louis Appleby.

Support 4 Change is run by the Warrington Criminal Justice Liaison Service (CJLS) which launched the group in 2012 after being selected by the department of health as a developmental site for the treatment based alternatives to custody programme.

The aim of the team is to reduce reoffending and with a 92 per cent successful completion rate, 178 per cent above the NOMS target.

Julie Palin, who has been seconded to lead the Support 4 Change project, said she was ‘overjoyed’ that the team had won the award.

She added: “Offenders are supervised in the same way as any other person on a community sentence. The difference is that we provide professional support to improve their mental health and wellbeing.”

Clr Pat Wright, executive board member for health, wellbeing and adult services at Warrington Borough Council, said: “This is fantastic news. Well done to everyone who is involved in Support4Change.The success of Support4Change clearly demonstrates the success that can be achieved when organisations come together to offer innovative solutions for people – and to win an award really is the icing on the cake.”