Seven Kings mosque starts mentoring scheme for former Muslim prisoners

A mentoring scheme for former Muslim prisoners has been started at a mosque in Seven Kings.

Inmates of Rochester Young Offenders Institute originally from Redbridge are offered mentoring to help them integrate back into the community.

The Al Ansar Islamic Community Centre, High Road, Seven Kings currently has one trained mentor who works with the former prisoners.

Faaris Johnson, 23, of Chadwell Heath, said: “We want them to be the best Muslims.

“Not everyone wants your help, if they want to join the project they can. Most don’t want to do it which is up to them but a small group want to become a better Muslims and give back to their communities.”

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During training courses the mentors learn about how to build trusting relationships with the young offenders but to also be aware of the limits of the relationship.

“They’re not open at the start so it’s about becoming closer to them,” said Faaris.

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“The whole point is to stop them from reoffending and to try and develop them through training and education.”

Part of the way relationships are built is to discuss the crimes the youths are in prison for and to show how negligible perceived benefits actually are.

Faaris said: “Say three people got �10,000 from robbing a bank, divided by three that’s �3,000, then they’ve spent five years in jail. They would have got much more by signing on. We show them that crime doesn’t pay.”

Imam at the centre Abu Talha, 43, said: “We have an obligation to support them. It’s a fantastic project and something we should be doing. As a community we believe we should be making a positive contribution.”

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