Solas Project

Solas Project: Compass - Helping to find a better path

Dublin, IrelandDublin, Ireland
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

This programme aims to reduce re-offending in Ireland by reaching,
gaining trust & loving every prisoner in Irl. away from criminality and
towards a new life. The programme fills a gap in provision of continuous, comprehensive, coherent and responsive support services for male prisoners age 17-23.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

your past no longer dictated your future
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Currently about 70% of male offenders aged between 17-23 re-offend within 3 years. The costs to Irish society and the State of not tackling effectively such high levels of re-offending incidence amongst young offenders are beyond financial (which is in itself substantial); it affects the very fabric of society and competitiveness, and embeds patterns of inter-generational criminal behaviour and of social stigma towards perpetrators.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our approach is based on (1) establishing trusting relationships through engaging activities and mentoring, and developing tailored post-release support plans while in prison, followed by (2) the provision of comprehensive and responsive post-release/in the community rehabilitation support through mentoring, professional counselling, practical support, skills-building and training and employment, towards improved self-awareness, self-reliance and respect, and to encourage personal responsibility. This approach is driven by our belief and desire to: a) Help create a better future for young individuals and society b) Get moving and make change happen
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Pre-Release Engagement: 6 months pre-release date - qualifies for program and becomes 'student' First engagement is joining fun activities Student partnered with a mentor who explains additional benefit of programme Relationship is established through regular meetings and activities Mentor discusses potential post release support Student agrees Mentor arranges immediate support post release Post-release engagement: Mentor supports and encourages student from release date, through each phase of the programme, working towards sustained behavioural change - through to graduation Programme Milestones: Employability; Civic Responsibility; Engagement; Education; Extra Curricular Activities; substance abuse management.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Our approach is based on compelling evidence around effective young offenders’ rehabilitation, including, amongst other: Ready 4 Work (USA), Chance Project (Czech Republic), STAMP Mentoring Programmer (Australia), SOVA Project (Australia) that the provision of practical support in prison is unlikely to have a lasting impact on the incidence of re-offending unless that support continues upon release. Research findings (My World Survey, Headstrong & UCD, 2012) indicating that the most powerful predictor of resilience and positive mental health in young people is the presence of an adult who cares about their lives; someone who, in the way they look, listen and understand a young person, instills in that young individual the feeling that he/she belongs, that his/her life matters, and that he/she could make it work.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We aim to achieve at least 60% rehabilitation success, measured by: - indicators of emotional and social wellbeing, of the programme participants (‘Students’); - re-offending statistics after 3 years amongst our Students against overall target group, as well as: - other indicators of community cohesion and criminal behaviours.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Financial sustainability of Compass will be enabled by a diverse pool of funding sources, as well by the introduction of a Solas Project Social Enterprise (The Yard), the latter which will not only provide critical work experience for some of our Students, but that will contribute to needed revenue to sustain the programme. Solas Project has a 7 year track record of strong financial performance.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Our approach is different and innovative. There is no programme currently in operation that engages with young prisoners pre and post release that offers social, practical and skills development with mentoring support at the core. Our model also allows for the potential to collaborate with key organisations through which our Students can achieve their Milestones. This creates a platform for integrating existing services to a greater effect and avoids duplication. Bridge Project; PACE; IASIO, Jobcare & Care after Prison either pre or post support.

Founding Story

Graham Jones, Co-founded Solas Project: As a criminal defence solicitor, Graham has had the opportunity to meet many young people caught up in crime. While each had a different story they all shared a common theme of wasted potential due to a lack of direction, support, and little ambition. Nearly all had little or no self-worth and a very pessimistic view of their future (or lack of). It was through this frustration and a desire to tackle the issue of self-worth in an individual rather than manage the outcome of their court case that Graham decided to leave a career in law and put all his energy in to creating and developing a new and innovative way to meet the needs of these young people.


Tim Gaston: Youth cultivator He previously volunteered and subsequently worked with Dublin Christian Mission as Youth & Community Worker, where his role included one on one mentoring with youths and working and supporting their families. Philip Richardson: Over 20 years experience as an addiction support worker. He spent 7 years working in Lifeline Recovery where he organized and implemented recovery plans for clients residing in facility
About You
About You
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About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, Dublin

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Dublin

Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, National government.

Awards: What awards or honors has the project received?

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland - Elevator Award
David Manley Finalist

Where have you learnt about the competition?

Social Media

Tell us about your partnerships:

Currently we do not have formal partnerships, however we are work in close connection with many organisation & are looking to develop these further & formally in 2015.

Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

There are many people who are quick to highlight all problems that society faces, and usually these are the same people who believe that everything will always stay the same because “that is just the way it is”. In order to change something, one must possess an ability to see a better future and believe that change is possible. We passionately believe that love and trust, mixed with the application of proven as well as innovative transformative approaches with professional help can make a difference in a young person’s life and help him/her turn from crime