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'Winning the award was a pinch yourself moment!' - Promoting Opportunity winner CELLS tell us their story

CELLS deliver proven and effective interventions that address initial and re-offending behaviours via preventative awareness, diversionary programs and follow on support, including onward progression through the itsup2u initiative.

CELLS have worked with vulnerable people for 10 years, successfully challenging and changing attitudes and lifestyles of over 165,000 beneficiaries from all age groups, backgrounds and behavioural levels.

CELLS operate a unique beneficiary reciprocal cycle; inadvertently supported people & stakeholders actively help one another. Victims & Ex-Offenders tell us they find it liberating working together to help CYP, gratified by their response & applauded by Police/teachers who they once thought of as adversaries, inspires them to want to further achieve through their PDP.

Why did you apply for a Queen's Award for Enterprise in Promoting Opportunity?

We were encouraged to apply for a Queens award by our partner and host Community Centre, who we have worked with since incorporation helping the highest deprived community in the country.

CELLS have 2 tiers of beneficiary;

  • Children and Young People (CYP) including the hardest to engage, disadvantaged & marginalized, not in education or employment (NEET), active & peripheral offenders mostly with complex needs coming from injurious homes, seeking acceptance and easily exploited.
  • People who have lived experiences of crime and its consequences, including ex-offenders seeking reformation and victims of crime. Some gain support or volunteer, most leading CYP engagement as the CELLS-Team gaining self-worth. Interacting with CYP at sessions they respond to current relevant issues CYP face. CELLS offer them regulated work with experience, training and qualifications.

From similar backgrounds & faced same issues CYP can relate to our team, they feel at ease. This connection has shaped CELLS.

Young people engaged by CELLS-Team tell us it is REAL people from similar backgrounds portraying the REAL implications that they relate to, trust and engage with. We value our team, so we have an obligation to help them too, empowering them with skills and experience to continue their social restitution and redevelopment.

Initially we set out to reduce ASB/Gateway-crime in our area, this has seen a 44.1% decrease in ASB;

Knowsley, where CELLS is based, suffers the highest deprivation/NEET rates in the England. ‘High deprivation is a precursor to crime’ (Prior and Paris, 2005). High levels of depravation underpin offending behaviour and early intervention can prevent escalation, reducing the chances of CYP becoming exploited and the likelihood of them entering the Criminal-Justice-System (CJS), or becoming victims of crime (Knowsley Crime & Community Safety report 2015).

Coming from injurious family-backgrounds, young people battle complex issues such as CSE, CCE, Drug-abuse, bullying, and exclusion. All which impact on their mental health/well-being and social inclusion.  They lack positive role-models; some are in care provisions, excluded or in danger of exclusion from education, and cast aside into alternative provisions. Teachers tell us that they are under-resourced and under-qualified to deal with many of CYP's complex issues, which go far beyond what is considered any statutory responsibilities to the CYP. Once disengaged there are no support networks to re-engage and teachers and youth-leaders are ill-equipped to support them. CYP enter CELLS feeling crime is a viable career option, CELLS mentors veer them away from crime, boredom and deprivation.

What has winning the award meant for your business and staff?

Winning the award was a pinch yourself moment for all the team, who have had so much negativity in their pasts and very little recognition for the fantastic work they deliver, it has inspired them to achieve more as a group and as individuals.

How will winning the Award benefit your business?

We have already noticed that doors that were usually closed have begun to open for CELLS, we hope this is continue to amaze us as to how people revere this prestigious award, that we have been lucky to win. The CELLS corporate orbit seems to have just hit a big bang and gone universal.

Do you have any advice for future Queen’s Award applicants?

The amazing thing is the Queens award is open to any company so apply, you never know you might be amazed at the response as we have.

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