The project is to be extended to every prison in Scotland
A groundbreaking project which aims to help offenders stay out of prison has received the biggest lottery award of its kind ever granted in Scotland.
The Routes Out Of Prison (Roop) programme involves former prisoners going back into jail to work with offenders about to end their sentences.
The project has been run by the Wise Group as a pilot at Barlinnie, Polmont and Cornton Vale prisons for 18 months.
It is to be extended to every prison in Scotland after receiving a £2m grant.
The pilot project has attempted to help prisoners acquire life, social and employment skills to rejoin society and stay out of jail.
So far it has worked with 1,600 people, half of whom have gone into full-time training or employment.
It is hoped the so-called life coaches will use their experiences of re-entering society after leaving prison to turn around the lives of thousands of short-term prisoners in the next two years.
The Wise Group, which runs Roop, believes it can reduce overall reoffending rates by up to 5% in that time.
Wise Group chief executive, Laurie Russell, said: "Our life coaches will build up a trusting relationship with and prepare an action plan for each individual to make the transition back into their community.
"We are delighted that we will now be able to offer around 5,000 clients across Scotland a new service to help them make positive changes to their lifestyles."
The £2m award is the maximum that can be handed over to a single project by the Big Lottery Fund.
Fund chair, Alison Magee, said: "This will enable a successful pilot to roll out across Scotland building bridges between ex-prisoners and the community following their release.
"It will recruit ex-offenders who will use their experiences in turning their lives around to help short-term offenders in Scotland's prisons to acquire the life, social and employment skills they will need when they rejoin society."