With retail crime on the rise, last August saw the cooperative launch its £100,000 Safer Neighbourhood Fund, which is enabling a dozen programmes across the south east to work with at-risk adults and young people.
Funded programmes include work in Portsmouth from Motiv8, The Society of St James, and the Community Alcohol Partnerships.
Now supported groups are already reporting ‘incredible’ success at stopping reoffending, according to Gemma Lacey, Southern Co-op's director for sustainability and communications.
She said: ‘The national average for reoffending is 26-32 per cent - of the programmes that are working to prevent reoffending, many have seen reoffending rates of between zero and 4 per cent.
‘So far the programmes have led to increased employment opportunities or development of employability skills, engagement with the local community or wildlife, overcoming personal barriers, improved emotional resilience and strengthened participants relationships with family and friends.’
Working in Portsmouth and Southampton, The Society of St James has helped 23 ex-offenders learn new life and social skills, helping them to find jobs, become volunteers, and reconnect with family.
The society has brought in members of the community to teach brick-laying, woodworking, landscaping, painting, decorating and training in the skills of using hand and power tools.
One individual supported by the work said: ‘I want to say thank you. It has had a big part in my recovery and has kept me occupied. It took my mind off things when I have been at my lowest and struggled with cravings. It has made me realise I am not all bad. It's about being able to give something back.
‘It's not just helped me with crime and drugs but also my mental health and wellbeing.
‘My self-harm has reduced. I think there should be more projects like this to help people stop reoffending.
‘I am proof that something like this can help offenders stop reoffending.’
Earlier this week, The News revealed Ministry of Justice figures that show the city has the highest rate of youth crime across the south east.