A new café that provides former offenders with a chance to restart their lives has opened in Glasgow’s Dental Hospital.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf formally opened the Street & Arrow project, which gives ex-offenders a route back to employment and stable lives.

Run in partnership with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Street & Arrow was developed from the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, established in 2008 as part of Scotland’s public health approach to tackling violence.

As well as experienced catering staff, the café employs those who have been involved in violence or offending behaviour, and especially those who have a previous conviction who want to turn their lives away from violent offending.

In addition to payment for their work, the trainees receive mentoring to help them stabilise their lives and deal with issues such as staying sober, housing, family or relationship issues, or creating a CV. Employment is for a year with the option for ongoing support once they have finished their time with the programme.

Speaking ahead of a parliamentary debate on violence reduction, Mr Yousaf said the opening of the café marked Scotland’s journey over the last decade to reduce violent crime.

"Recorded violent crime has nearly halved across Scotland in the last decade and we’ve seen a parallel fall in the number of emergency admissions to hospital resulting from assault", he commented.

"Our approach to tackling violence as a public health issue is one that is working and is being recognised globally. Just yesterday, the Mayor of London announced a Violence Reduction Unit in London inspired by the Scottish model. This is welcome news, but the job of tackling violence in Scotland is not yet done. The momentum must continue to tackle the root causes of violent crime."

Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Niven Rennie, stated: "Scotland's focus on the public health approach to violence is world-leading and is increasingly being replicated by countries across the globe. Working together Scotland has shown that violence is preventable."

Gary Jenkins, director of regional services at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, added: "As a Board, we are committed to supporting people who can face barriers to gaining employment. Not only does this partnership provide an excellent opportunity for us to help job seekers; it is also providing a fantastic new cafe for our patients and staff at the Dental Hospital. It is already proving very popular thanks to the very high standard of catering and I’m sure its popularity will only continue to grow."