Last week I read the story of a young lad who was only nine years old when he started selling drugs, before living the next three decades in and out of prison.
Sadly, this isn’t an uncommon scene in many countries, least America. In this particular case, Reggie Davis is based in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighbourhood – a setting where more than one-third of households are below the poverty line. To add to that statistic, more than half of the adult population in the neighbourhood have had some involvement with the criminal justice system.
While this might read as an unavoidably hopeless situation, North Lawndale residents are taking control of their futures and challenging this predictable fate. In fact, Reggie is one of a rapidly growing group of local residents who are turning their lives around thanks to a beekeeping operation set up to support those returning from prison.
Fittingly titled Sweet Beginnings, the operation employs residents to make high-end, artisanal honey and honey-infused skincare products. This is obviously an incredible programme, going above and beyond to provide opportunities for those wanting to create a new life for themselves, and it’s actually working – since launching 10 years ago, more than 400 people have worked at Sweet Beginnings, with less than four per cent relapsing into criminal activity.
It’s seriously exciting to read that more and more of these life-changing programmes are being set up around the world.
Have you come across any other life-changing programmes to help rehabilitate ex-prisoners or drug users? I would love to hear about them below or on Twitter.