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In Conversation with Ed Cornmell

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Executive Director of the Youth Custody Service - and friend of In2Out - Ed Cornmell, sat down for a chat about the role of the third sector in working with young offenders and the opportunities that brings.

You don’t have to be around the Youth Custody Service for long, before you realise there are so many people and organisations involved in supporting children and young people within the criminal justice environment. It’s unsurprising really, when you think that these are some of the most complex, challenging and vulnerable members of our society, still developing and finding their identity and place in the world.

Such a breadth and variety of people involved is all to the good, as Ed explains:


“In youth custody we do find different organisations, people with different backgrounds, the different skills are out here working particularly in the youth sector. We bring them together because each individual child needs different things, and the more diverse we are, the more options and opportunities we provide, we can tailor that to meet the individual child’s needs.”

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Crossing Boundaries

A great strength of the third sector is the ability to cross boundaries in a way that those within the system can’t. Ed spoke of how the experience of being arrested, prosecuted and brought into custody can hinder relationships between the young people and prison staff, but not with others.


“There’s an openness quite often from children that I see, for working with people that don’t work for the state directly. There’s a trust that can form from that.”

The gate is another boundary for those working within the system, and In2Out’s ability to cross that is clearly seen by Ed.

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“As much as I want the right futures for my children in custody, my remit and responsibility sadly have to end there at the establishment gates. I see so many partner organisations work across that.”



“I think In2Out is absolutely crucial in terms of the role that you play, providing that support in custody, but then crucially through that gate out into the community at such a critical time, without some of the same boundaries that age can bring to that.”

The clear definition of ‘adult’ and ‘child’ means that once a young person turns 18 they move on to other services and organisations within the community, often with a significant drop in the level of support available to them. In2Out works with young people from 15 to 21 years of age, with many of our former participants continuing to stay in touch through their mid-20s. Our level of support is based on the individual’s needs not their age which, along with crossing the other boundaries, allows for a consistent, continuing relationship which Ed recognises as being so valuable to each young person.


“The power of continuing relationship and the unrelenting nature of that I think is so powerful and I think can make such a huge difference that really can’t be quantified.”

Let's Work Together
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Whether working in the statutory sector or the third sector, making a difference in the lives of young people in custody, helping to bring about and support lasting change, remains a motivating factor for all involved. Working together, with each person and organisation playing its part is both valuable and effective – and appreciated by Ed.


“I think that’s why people commit their time and their investment and support in In2Out - because they know they can make a difference. I know that absolutely the difference is made by those that choose to give that commitment to the work and that really needs to be celebrated.


“I see so many motivated, committed individuals who come in, quite often giving up of their time, who will absolutely step up in that role of wanting to make a difference - and I welcome it.”


“A huge thank you. I don’t want anybody to feel that their contribution is not valued because it’s of significant value.”

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