Staff Spotlight: Stuart Otten, About Face, Forging Ahead and Plan B Service Manager

Stu has worked for City Hearts for five years, pioneering our crime-free future and violence reduction support. His powerful personal story is what led to a passion for helping perpetrators of crime.

“In my former life as a Liverpool nightclub doorman, my mental health was rock bottom and I had suicidal thoughts. One day I remember drawing a line in the sand. I had to make the decision to change. My life was so dark and empty, I had to move out of that place, start making better choices. After a long journey, I became a social worker within local government for many years, becoming experienced in social care and mental health. I also attended a Bible College in Sheffield, met my wife and fell in love.”

Stuart eventually became a case worker for City Hearts, working within the male safe house team based in South Yorkshire. After approaching the management team of City Hearts to ask if he could look into working with those who found themselves on the other side of the law to those normally supported by the charity, Stuart began to fulfill a decade-long personal dream of providing support, advice and guidance to individuals who found themselves in similar situations to those he had found himself in twenty years previously.

“For many years I had carried a longing to see men set free physically and emotionally from everything that holds them back in their lives, never achieving their potential. In the early days of working with ex-offenders, I supported three men who had a long history of offending, due to substance misuse. Two of them stopped using and one got a job after ten years of being unemployed.

My hope for the future is that people would be given opportunities based on merit, not their past. We will be ensuring our trauma informed therapeutic approach will run through everything we do.

We tell our clients we are on this journey with you and here as long as you need us. We are more ambitious for the quality of our work, rather than the quantity. We plan to continue building a support network of like-minded organisations who don’t want to be ‘arresting our way’ out of crime, but giving everyone a fair opportunity to begin their journey of transformation into a crime-free future.”