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TV star Sam Quek discovers how north-east charity is transforming lives one cup of tea at a time in awarding-winning new podcast.

Olympic gold medallist and TV presenter Sam Quek has learned how a Morpeth-based project is changing the lives of ex-offenders by helping them transition from serving time to serving coffees.

Since 2012, the Oswin Project has believed in the power of second chances and has helped those with criminal records obtain jobs through employment programs, mentoring, training and support across the Northeast.  

It is one of the thousands of organisations throughout the UK which benefit from the £30 million raised every week for good causes by National Lottery players.

They used National Lottery funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to provide training and the opportunity to learn new skills for prisoners in an attempt to reduce the risk of re-offending and increase the prospect of successful reintegration into society.

Their at Café 16 in Newcastle Cathedral has had a life-changing impact and features on the latest episode of The National Lottery’s podcast series Amazing Starts Here.

Far from an ordinary café, it provides an opportunity for prisoners to gain hands on experience, as well as training and qualifications in catering, food hygiene and baking, all contributing to reducing reoffending and helping them make different choices.  

Amazing Starts Here host, Sam Quek met the inspirational Fiona Sample, leading mind behind Cafe 16. She also chats with some of those who worked at the café to understand the complexity behind why people end up in prison, the challenges they face when they get out, and heard how the project provides practical skills and a thorough support system for long-term change.   

Fiona Sample, founder and CEO of the Oswin Project told Sam: “Without purpose, things can unravel. People who have been in prison are most vulnerable when they leave and they’re not quite sure what to expect when they go outside. But through work, through a structure to their lives, they begin to settle back. And it’s so important, not only for the individual but for their families and communities. We want to keep communities safe, and we want to reduce reoffending, and this is a proven way of doing it.” 

Sam Quek added: “As a former elite athlete, I’ve been fortunate to benefit directly from National Lottery funding and have seen how its helped us bring home medals galore from Olympic and Paralympic games. 

 “In this series, I will be meeting some impressive people who have been making their mark in all aspects of life across the UK and catching-up with some familiar faces to find out how National Lottery support has empowered them to turn their dreams into reality. 

“I hope you can join me to find out where the amazing starts”  

Listen to the full episode here:

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