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Posted on 6 September 2023

New service ‘Free Project’ launched in Bury to help transform men’s lives

The ‘FREE Project’ has been launched as a peer support service to help men in Bury overcome substance misuse and behavioural issues and to help integrate those who are currently in the criminal justice system back into the community.

Funded by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust via Achieve
Bury Recovery Fund, the project was launched by Bernard Shaw after his own experiences with addiction.

Former service user at the ‘Thomas Project’, Bernard, exited prison with addiction problems. Now six years clean, Bernard is now working to help men aged over 25 who are going through a similar situation.

FREE project has been supported by Bury’s Floating Support Co-ordinator, Louise Jackson, which is delivered by Gateway and by Tom Woodcock who is now Director of Treatment and Recovery for Syncora. Tom first worked with Bernard 20 years ago in treatment services and his support has given Bernard the inspiration to set up this service and to establish it as a Community Interest Company.

FREE is being delivered by volunteers with lived experience, providing community based
group work sessions and activities to increase engagement and bring empowerment to service users. Bernard is looking to recruit even more volunteers to help deliver and expand the service into other areas of Greater Manchester.

Bernard’s journey started in 2017 when he was most recently released, Bernard said: “I’ve not used for six years because there were people there for me this time I got released. That’s why I want to do it.

My passion is helping people who are coming out of prison because I didn’t have the opportunity of someone being there for me. I repeated the same cycle over and over again for twenty years. I want there to be something for people to access.”

The service can be accessed via a referral from Achieve, Forest Bank Prison, Probation and
self-referral. The project also hosts drop-in sessions at Manor House in Bury every Thursday
from 10am -12:30pm.

The FREE Project is also open to donations and other practical support to help people
establish and maintain positive lives in our community. Please contact Louise Jackson via

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