Improving the Community
Community engagement is part of our mission at 7th Step, because we empower all of our members to help others and give back to the community. Whenever possible we hire our members, preferably ex-offenders, because we understand the barriers to finding meaningful employment with a criminal record. Instead of seeing a record as a liability, we understand the value of lived experience and how it can be harnessed to improve the community.
We are committed to supporting and partnering with other community organizations to help our members and strengthen social bonds because we know that strong communities make good people and make prisons obsolete.
Discover more about our efforts below and get in touch to stay up to date with our projects.
STREET GROUP MEETINGS
The 7th Step Society is first and foremost a peer support group. It is designed to help support the recidivist offender successfully transition out of institutions and into society at large. We do this by helping the ex-offender change their self-identity, by changing their thoughts and behaviors so they no longer see themselves as criminals.
The street group meetings are the single most important aspect of the society because they provide a safe space for members to speak about their week, share their struggles and successes and swap potential solutions. The group uses the 7 Steps, as a way to change their behavior, learn and grow from their mistakes. These 7 steps are similar to other peer support groups like AA and NA but they have been designed specifically for the use of an offender.
A key difference of 7th Step from other peer support groups is the presence of volunteer members. The volunteer role is to assist the ex-offender with their recovery and reintegration. This can be done in a variety of ways from informal problem solving, connection building and emotional support.
Get in touch with us today and see how you can become a member of our group.
WORKING IN THE INSTITUTIONS
The 7th Step Society enters institutions such as Central Nova Correctional Facility (Burnside) and the Nova Institute for Women to implement 8-week programs. During the eight weeks, members of the group teach the 7 steps to incarcerated individuals. The program is designed to help prepare inmates for change while they are in institutions, and have time to devote to realistic thinking and introspection. When they are released from the institution individuals’ can receive ongoing support from our street group.
We love presenting to groups in the community, high schools, junior-high schools and Universities. These presentations teach audiences about the criminal justice system, what it's like to leave an institution, what supports are available, and how the 7th Step Society fills a gap in services for offenders. Presenters often talk about the impact that 7th Step has had on their lives, and how it has made them want to give back to the community.
We are excited to announce that the 7th Step Society has received a grant from the CLARI research change lab, to conduct research that will examine how the 7th Step Society of NS supports the reintegration of offenders and ex-offenders. Using this knowledge, we hope to learn how our society can do more to support the needs of formerly incarcerated people.
The research team will be conducting interviews in mid-2020, analyzing the data we receive over the summer, and we hope to have the research completed by 2021.
The CLARI research lab connects universities and community groups, giving them the opportunity to access high-quality research tools and seek advice from professional researchers. The 7th Step Society is lucky to be working with Jamie Livingston a professor at Saint Mary's University and a member of the 7th Step Society of NS. Jamie Livingston has been a pillar and supporter in the field of criminology and is a core group member and board member of the 7th Step Society of NS.
PEER SUPPORT TRAINING PROGRAM
In May 2019 the 7th Step Society of Nova Scotia entered into a contract with Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) to develop and facilitate a Peer Support Training program, designed to introduce the principles of peer support and the role of a peer support worker.
We have designed this program to cover the fundamental aspects of peer support to serve as the basis for program attendants to begin their journey in the peer support field. We hope that this program can be used to facilitate peer support training programs within the community, in our province and across Canada.