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Justice Secretary visits the Date Palm Project



Secretary of State for Justice, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP has visited a new service in north west London that aims to help young Muslim men leaving prison to have a home and a place to rebuild their lives.
The Date Palm Project is a new community partnership between St Mungo’s Broadway, the National Zakat Foundation (NZF) and the Better Community Business Network (BCBN) to provide faith sensitive supported housing for young Muslim prison leavers who are at risk of homelessness.
The Cabinet Minister visited the eight bed shared house, which will be a temporary home for young men who are likely to stay from four to six months as they leave HMP Feltham.
Staff at the project will support them to focus on the future, prepare them for more independent living when they move on, and encourage them with developing their skills and work ambitions.
Mr Grayling met some of the new residents, staff who will manage the project and representatives from the National Zakat Foundation and the Better Community Business Network (BCBN) who have raised money to support the project.
Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling said, ‘We know that thousands of crimes are committed each year by those who have broken the law before – and we are introducing crucial reforms to the way offenders are rehabilitated to crack this stubborn cycle of reoffending.

"For too long prisoners have been released back onto the streets with £46 in their pockets and little else, in the hope they will sort themselves out — it's no wonder things haven't improved.
“Our new approach will see a far greater role for private and voluntary sector organisations, who can use innovative schemes like mentoring to turn offenders' lives around. The Date Palm Project is an excellent example of this type of approach and something I want to see much more of.”
Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s Broadway, said: “The Date Palm Project will be a template for future housing where young men can start to rebuild their lives after prison, and find new ways to work and live. Inspiring and innovative are over used words but not in this case. We look forward to building up the service with NZF and BCBN support over the months and years ahead.”
Sabah Gilani, BCBN's Project Director, said: “I am honoured to be part of the Date Palm Project, the only one of its kind. Due to the stigma of imprisonment, many young offenders do not keep in touch with their families or have the correct support following their release. Their vulnerability, susceptibility to negative influence and pressure to reintegrate quickly can lead to frustration and discontentment and most worryingly, reoffending. We have been instrumental in the Date Palm Project’s launch and will continue to support young offenders in providing inspirational seminars from a range of professionals, training workshops, education programmes and employment opportunities.”
Iqbal Nasim, Chief Executive of NZF, said: “After months of planning and preparation, it is fantastic to see that the Date Palm Project has welcomed its first residents. NZF is pleased to be working with leading partners in St Mungo's Broadway and BCBN to deliver this important service. That said, we feel we have only started to scratch the surface and this is just the first of many such projects that we aim to deliver in coming years to tackle the problem of reoffending." 
Contact Judith Higgin, St Mungo’s Broadway, on 020 876 25645,
Iqbal Nasim, Chief Executive of the National Zakat Foundation, on 0790 549 7432, 
Sabah Gilani, Better Community Business Network, on 020 7202 9129,
The National Zakat Foundation is the leading Zakat institution for the UK Muslim community, serving Zakat payers and recipients nationwide. For more information, please visit 
St Mungo's Broadway provides a bed and support to more than 2,500 people a night who are either homeless or at risk, and works to prevent homelessness, helping about 25,000 people a year. We support men and women through more than 250 projects including emergency, hostel and supportive housing projects, advice services, specialist physical health, mental health and skills and work services.
Better Community Business Network is an initiative created by an informal group of local and national businessmen and professionals who have come together in order to support local community projects that make a real difference in the communities they serve.  We seek to promote altruism and selflessness amongst the business community and to encourage the business fraternity to re-direct some of its energy, creativity and the vast skills base it possesses for the betterment of wider society. The Date Palm Project does not in any way rely on the procurement of public funds; its total funding costs are raised from the wider community, which recognises the value of the Project.

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