“He helped me realise that I’m better than I thought”- Butler Trust commendation for Southwark based youth worker

22 March 2019

Mifta Choudhury, CEO of Youth Ink a charity that works within the Southwark Youth Offending Service, has received a commendation at the 2018-19 Butler Trust awards for his inspiring leadership work.

The Butler Trust recognises some of the best examples of the dedication, skill, and creativity found throughout the criminal justice system. The awards are presented each year by Princess Anne, patron of The Butler Trust.

Mifta founded Youth Ink in June 2016 as a way to engage children and young who have varying degrees of involvement in the youth justice system. The charity is staffed by people who have experience of the criminal justice system and uses their lived experience as the basis of building meaningful and trusting relationships with participants based on mutual understanding.

A key part of Youth Ink is training young people to become part of the Peer Support Navigator Network which helps create employment and volunteering opportunities for ex-service users. Some young people who have completed the scheme have had their community orders revoked early and others are volunteering.

Once trained, the Peer Navigators deliver peer led Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) sessions with young people in the YOS to help give them the knowledge, skills, and attributes they need to keep themselves healthy, safe and to prepare them for life and work.

Mifta and the Peer Support Navigators encourage the young people who attend the YOS to open up more about their feelings as a helpful method to address difficult emotions such as fear and stress.

Craig* was referred to Youth Ink and the Peer Navigator programme as a way for him to think about his options and reflect on different ways to manage his emotions as well as meet people who had similar life experiences as him.  Through Mifta’s intervention, Craig learnt about the effects of trauma, and developed positive self-identity through assisting on group work programmes at the YOS. Mifta enabled Craig to share his personal experiences and gave support as a positive role model from a similar background.
Craig’s own words perhaps best capture the profound impact this kind of work can have: “‘I would be in jail now without Mifta’s support, he helped me realise that I’m better than I thought.”

Mifta says: “A massive thank you to Southwark YOS and all staff and volunteers for the support everyone has given to Youth Ink, this scheme would not have succeeded without everyone involved from those service users who have successfully navigated the path of criminal justice and now in a position to give back to their peers and their community.

“We believe that the responsibility offered to young people, through the Peer Support Navigator Network and the acquisition of skills and responsibility, together with the assets of self-esteem and self-worth, are crucial in breaking the cycle of exclusion, offending and re-offending.  We believe that by highlighting the positives that can be drawn from user inclusion, positive change can occur throughout the criminal justice system.

“Youth Ink is charity led and run by and for people with experience of disadvantage. By working with the most marginalised young people we seek to create a feeling of community and empowerment of young people. Our trauma informed Peer Support Navigators who have broken the cycle of offending, recognising that people can only give to others what they have experienced themselves.”

Cllr Jasmine Ali, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Adult Care, said: “I am so incredibly pleased for Mifta that his hard work and dedication to the young people of Southwark has been recognised in this way. We are extremely lucky to have someone like Mifta working within our Youth Offending Service. His passion for helping young people is truly inspirational and evident to see."

Andrew Hillas, Head of Southwark YOS and local Butler Trust Champion, says: “Mifta has worked tirelessly to make this project a success. He has spent long periods developing trust with the Peer Navigator group, many of whom have themselves experienced very traumatic backgrounds. This has not been a quick or easy achievement. Mifta has built a natural rapport with the young people he works with. Mifta has an excellent ability to be clear about his expectations and boundaries. His style of challenging support has been highly effective. None of his Peer Navigators have re-offended, demonstrating his ability to assist them to develop and maintain crime free lifestyles, characterised by their developing pro-social attitudes and views.”

* Service user’s name has been anonymised

Page last updated: 05 April 2019