Criminal Justice Forum & How to make social investment work for you

On the 6th December 4 NECG members attended an event hosted by Clinks in Manchester. The day was split into two – in the morning the focus was on the Criminal Justice Forum. This provided an array of speakers who talked about how organisations can engage and work better with police and crime commissioners. In the afternoon the event focused on examples of using Social Investment funding to help individuals with lived experience of offending get back into employment. The four members attending from the NECG were from three different projects and are all at different stages of their own recovery and development journeys but are all involved with projects at the national level. The reflections of the NECG members are presented below.

Joshua Spearpoint, South East Fulfilling Lives

My learning on the day was emphasised really from the off. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), presentation by Martin Nugent was something which struck me and my role. His discussion on partnership working within the criminal justice sector in the NW was of interest. The timing in which one was exposed to this thinking could not have been any better. Our Service Improvement Officer, Area Leads (these roles work with other professionals and support and guide our line of system change), and Volunteers are currently proposing some partnership work and learning with the prison service at HMP Lewes.  

I thought the forum was brilliant and very empowering for those with a keen interest in the role of a volunteer in this sector. My journey to Manchester was a long one yet the experience of ‘commuting,’ to work for the day was very stimulating for someone has experience of multiple and complex needs (MCN) such as myself. The day was packed with room to network and I met some interesting people with various reasons and interests as to why they were there. I felt a bit out of place at first as the forum focussed on the NW yet, in hindsight, having the opportunity to discuss lived experiences with the volunteers from Birmingham’s Fulfilling Lives project (FL), made my morning. Being in a situation whereby it is of benefit to utilise my past experiences as assets is a real privilege. The day was useful on both a professional and personal level. Our AG members are always kept up to date and involved in all that we do as PC’s and, with this forum experience in mind, illustrated to our volunteers that this project can provide a role for volunteers to be involved and feel supported.

Something that also compliments the learning involved on the day which I have taken back to the project was the real strength in recognising assets in those we work alongside. This is something that we frequently do in our project. For example – prior to a volunteer becoming a fully-fledged member we look at their skills and attributes and create an asset map with them in order to ensure they use us to the best of their ability.

Within the FL south east project we currently have 4 priorities for system change called PSA’s. These are areas of work within our project designed through Co-production with individuals and their lived experiences of complex needs. Martin highlighted the value of having Co-production at the centre of their authority’s strategy and this really empowers our intentions.  

Lastly, Martin commented on the need to consider the people and environment when creating services aimed at a specific cohort. Throughout the FL south east project we are currently encouraging Psychologically Informed Environments throughout our own service and system. The setting and people within it clearly can have a positive influence on people’s lives – especially those with experience of MCN. We all want to work in an environment that is safe and healthy so that people feel welcome, valued, have privacy, feel safe, feel supported, accompanied, there is peer support, trust and respect.

Paddy and Gez, Birmingham Changing Futures

The forum wasn’t really meant for us but it gave us a good insight into the area of discussion. We felt that this forum was more appropriate for the organisations and how they can utilize volunteers more effectively and to their benefit, particularly now there is less funding available. The focus of discussion was too theoretical and could have been pitched in more layman’s terms.

The Social enterprise presentation was good i.e. work with prisoners, however we must be mindful that it does not become tokenistic and that the benefit is always to the client and not about money.

Lisa Corless, Liverpool Waves of Hope

I found this training very interesting and I got a lot of information for it that I hope I get to use at a later point this year – how to take lived experience into my local area and where to get funding. The way it was delivered made it easy for me to understand and bring back to Liverpool. It also gave me the opportunity to make a few contacts that will be useful for some plans that I have and what I can get involved in too, thank you for inviting me.