FORMER Dartmoor prisoner Chris Dredger of Bideford is in the running for an award which recognises people who harness digital technology to bring about positive social change in their communities.
Chris has reached the final three in the South West region of the TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards.
This recognises his four-and-a-half years work for Storybook Dads, which helps maintain the emotional bond between prisoners and their children by helping offenders to record bedtime stories on CDs and DVDS. It is believed that keeping families together helps to reduce re-offending by up to six times.
Should he win the regional section Chris will receive a ï¿½5,000 grant towards a new or existing digital project. If successful, he hopes to develop Storybook Dads and expand it to those men serving in the Armed Forces.
But to beat his two rivals from the Plymouth area, he needs people to vote for him online at http://www.talktalk.co.uk/digitalheroes/region.php?region=south west.
The 12 regional winners nationwide will then go to the national finals at the House of Lords, with the overall winner receiving ï¿½10,000 towards their project.
Chris first came across Storybook Dads while serving a sentence in Dartmoor Prison and started working there as an editor, filming and editing prisoners recording bedtime stories on DVD for their children.
It became an important part of his life and a turning point.
â€œBeing able to be a part of something so worthwhile, to see the difference I made by working for Storybook Dads, made me want to come out of prison a better person,â€ said Chris.
Two years after being released, Chris continues to work for the project.
He said he was honoured to have been nominated for the digital heroes award.
â€œI have found it to be a very humbling experience. I often do a lot of extra hours for the charity, because I feel I still owe a lot and need to give back to the charity for doing so much for me. They literally changed my life and without them I believe my life would be very different now,â€ he said.
â€œI cannot ever imagine myself being in trouble again, or ever going back inside. A big reason now is that I have worked as hard as I can over the past two years, I have become a part of something so rewarding and worthwhile and now have so much to lose. I do not believe in the word â€˜regretâ€™ as I find it pointless, you cannot change the past, but I can and will make a good and honest future for myself.â€
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