Stuart Dearborn has been with The Footprints Project since 2016. He joined us as an Outreach Worker and has recently become our new Prisons Co-ordinator across Hampshire and Dorset. 

Name: Stuart Dearborn

Age: 54

Job title: Prisons Co-ordinator

When I turned 32 I realised I had to make a choice about my future. I grew up in Manchester and spent a lot of my youth in and out of prison on short sentences, mostly because of drugs and minor criminal offences. I started to turn things around when I went into a rehab programme here in Dorset. From there I went into supported housing and began working with other young offenders in rehab, helping them to get the life skills they needed. I trained to be a mentor and found a job at a police station as a drugs worker, helping young offenders navigate the criminal justice system. Then in 2016 I applied for a post with The Footprints Project as an Outreach Worker and I have been working with the team here ever since. 

Prison feels familiar to me, it’s a place close to my heart, as mad as that sounds. When I visit people in prison I know how valuable it is to them that I am there, and that I show up consistently. I think people feel comfortable with me and I enjoy forming those connections when I visit. 

Stuart and Footprints Communications Manager Sarah at a recent re-settlement fair at HMP Portland

I enjoy being able to match a client (someone in prison) with the right Footprints Project Fresh Start Mentor and knowing how much help and support they’ll get from our volunteers when they leave prison. The mentoring we provide makes a big difference and helps people get back on their feet. It’s something I wish I’d had when I first went to prison, it would have helped me learn how to stay out of trouble a lot sooner than I did! I also enjoy supporting our Fresh Start Mentors on their journeys and helping them to improve their mentoring skills.

Being the new Prisons Co-ordinator is exciting for me. Footprints already has a great network and connections in many of the prisons in Dorset and Hampshire. I’m hoping to expand that network and ensure we can reach and help as many prisoners and prison-leavers as possible.