Cork Alliance Centre

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Our practice framework is grounded in the academic research on desistance and guidelines on using a person-centred strengths based approach. The following guidelines are adapted from the IRISS Insights document published in April 2012 – Discovering Desistance – How and why people stop offending. 


Research on desistance has helped to identify principles for practitioners*


  • Being realistic about the complexity and difficulty of the process
    We know that making changes in your life does not happen in an instance. It takes time, and the path is neither smooth nor straightforward. You will encounter challenges along the way, and sometimes you will make decisions that in hindsight you wish you had not. These are all opportunities where you can, with support, take responsibility for yourself enabling further personal growth.

    • Individualising support for change
    While there will be common experiences among the ex-prisoner population, each individual will have their own needs, strengths, and challenges. We will take the time to get to know you and help you decide the direction you want to go in.

    • Build and sustain hope
    Moving away from criminal activity and associated behaviours can be a slow challenging process. At times it can seem like there are barriers that you cannot get past. We believe there is a way around all of these perceived barriers. In our contact with you, we will support and motivate you to work towards your goals and remain focused and hopeful.

    • Recognise and develop the person’s strengths and resources
      Our strengths based approach will support you to set goals, realise your strengths, develop your already existing skills that will help you achieve your goals, and recognise the resources you have in your community. You are the best person to make decisions and choices about your life - our role is to support you to do this and not to make decisions and choices for you.

    • Respect and foster self-determination
    We will work with you and not on you. It is your life, and you are the best person to make decisions about your life. We won’t do it for you, but we will support you to take action, try something new, learn new skills and thereby move forward positively and confidently in your life.

    • Work with and through relationships
    We believe that it is through building a good relationship with you that change will come about. We also believe that your personal and social relationships are key to your desistance journey being a success. Returning to live with family after prison or re-building fractured relationships can be challenging. Some relationships may not be possible to heal. But with support you can work through these relationships and come to an understanding of yourself and those around you.

    • Developing human and social capital
    Human capital refers to the capabilities and skills you can bring to the jobs market. Social capital refers to your social networks and engagement in the community. We can support you to access education and training to build your human capital, and support you to get involved in your community and build your social network.

    • Recognising and celebrating progress
    Change and progress, no matter how small it may seem needs to be recognised. Sometimes the smallest of changes can have the biggest effect. The journey away from criminal behaviour and addiction is difficult, and if you do not see the changes you are making it can leave you feeling hopeless, especially when new challenges need to be faced. When you cannot see the changes you are making, we are here to remind you of your progress and potential. You can do it.


    * Adapted from McNeill, F., Farrall, S., Lightowler, C. and Maruna, S. (2012). Insights. How and Why People Stop Offending: Discovering Desistance. The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services.  Available at: