User Voice - Only Offenders Can Stop Re-Offending

London Probation Trust Open Space

On the 7th of October 2013 User Voice hosted a Co-production Event. The event allowed Service Users and Probation Staff to work collaboratively, co-producing a set of recommendations that service providers can implement to improve their current policies and procedures. 

The recommendations are

City & Hackney- Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea

  1. Leaflet or pamphlet of services and charities to apply for support before release
  2. More appropriate info in waiting areas

Barking, Dagenham & Havering
  1. Action Cards
  2. Communication/ technology (service user mailbox)

Lewisham
  1. Probation Officers to give out personal dial number
  2. Greater signposting to be part of the induction

Merton & Sutton
  1. Management oversight for in house services (e.g. education/training/employment and housing)
  2. Offender managers to be monitored for a period to see why service users are having to wait 

Brent & Hillingdon
  1. More financial support for service users being released from prison whilst they are waiting for befits
  2. Information pack on local services and available grants to be produced by service users and probation officers and made available to their local borough


The flexible model allowed participants to address complex issues where there are divergent viewpoints.

The enthusiasm shown by both service users and service providers was extremely encouraging; as a result a set of solution based recommendations were produced. 

These recommendations represent the most important issues identified by the group and will be addressed at the council meetings to follow.  


Knife Crime Event (Southwark)

On the 22nd of October User Voice hosted a World Café Event – ‘Preventing the Harm’. The event was led by the Southwark Youth Council and provided an opportunity for User Voice staff, Volunteers and delegates to discuss the following areas:
  • Why do so many young people in Southwark carry a knife?
  • Who should be involved in preventing knife crime in Southwark?
  • What action can be taken to prevent knife crime?

Guests included policy executives, representatives from local charities and social enterprises, police from Southwark and those from the Youth Offending sector. The passion shown by all volunteers and delegates was extremely encouraging and the feedback received highlights the importance of service user engagement:


“What I’ll take away is a further knowledge of how my part within this community can help the young people in the prevention of knife crime, as well as thinking of suitable solutions to resolve the ever concerning problem” 

Leeds Pathfinder Event

On the 17th of October User Voice staff, volunteers and young people attended the Leeds Pathfinder event. The event aimed to share the progress made on reducing the use of custody in West Yorkshire.

Young people presented to senior policy makers and local management from Bradford, Wakefield, Leeds, Kirklees and Calderdale YOTs as well as the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, the Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board, staff from Sheffield Hallam University and representative from West Yorkshire Police. Altogether the event was a fantastic opportunity for young people to discuss the following areas with the people making decisions about them:
  1. Young people’s experience of custody      
  2. If community sentences are used instead of custody, what things need to be in place to help young people to complete orders successfully, attend well and not breach?
It was extremely encouraging to see such enthusiasm and passion for service user engagement and the feedback was very positive
“I commend the work that [User Voice] delivers. The young people were confident and passionate and I felt honoured to be a part of it. It is through your work that educational and vocational opportunities that are real, can be provided” 

User Voice featured in Prison Service Journal

An article about User Voice's prison council model, written by Cambridge University PhD student Bethany Schmidt, has been featured in September's Prison Service Journal.

To read "User Voice and the Prison Council Model: A Summary of Key Findings from an Ethnographic Exploration of Participatory Governance in Three English Prisons" please click here.

User Voice at the YJC 2013

"Don’t forget that us young people were just like you when you was younger but we’ve gone down a different path. We’re all the same really aren’t we?"


At this year’s Youth Justice Convention, young people from User Voice projects across the country led a question and answer session with youth justice practitioners.

The session, which was highly praised by staff attending, addressed many issues faced by young people entering the criminal justice system. It gave young people a chance for their voices to be heard and offer suggestions on how the system could be improved for other young people like themselves.

Staff who attended the event gave very positive feedback highlighting how impressed they were by our articulate and insightful young peopleThat many practitioners left suggesting they'd promote youth involvement in future events showed how constructive service user involvement can be. 





Southwark young people make film 'The Line Up'

                     



Young people from the User Voice Youth Council in Southwark have made a film that aims to change perceptions of ex-offenders. 

Teaming up with Fixers, an innovative charity which makes high-quality multi-mdeia resources about issues that are important to young people, based on their real life experiences, the project involved the making of a short video called 'The Line Up' aimed at challenging stereotypes.

The final-cut of the film was screened on 27th November at an event at the South London Gallery to an audience that included staff from Southwark Council, London Probation Trust and User Voice. Nigel Hosking, from the London Probation Trust, was impressed with the film'it stops people in their tracks and makes them question their own beliefs and attitudes...the film is excellent for all those reasons and should go down well in schools, youth clubs'

Shauna, a User Voice associate youth engagement coordinator, led the project. Talking about the motivations of the young people people behind it she said: 
We want people to get the picture that young offenders are not monsters. They’re people who have made a mistake and should be treated normally. We're hoping to achieve greater understanding among members of the public of what the concept of being a young offender is. We want to get this resource out nationally. I am a young person and I understand the issues young people face. If I can raise them properly, then it’s a job well done.





Young people go to the Youth Justice Convention with User Voice

Today young people from User Voice projects across the country are heading to Birmingham with members of staff to take part in this year's Youth Justice Convention

Young people will be taking part in a workshop and leading a seminar for youth justice practitioners.

A press release by the Youth Justice Board has said:


"Young people, who have experience of the youth justice system, will...take part in two of the convention’s ‘fringe seminars’. 
User Voice’s ‘Young People’s Engagement Marketplace’, is a series of ‘solution focused’ discussions, involving around 10 young people, which will look at: relationships between young people and the police; youth to adult justice services, and improving engagement between young people and youth justice workers." 

Read the rest of this article about the convention here

Thanks to all those who have helped make this happen by generously donating their funds, time and effort!

Young Adults Volunteering Event--User Voice in association with ICPR

User Voice in association with ICPR held an event which gave service users and third sector organisations the chance to share their views and experiences about how to make the most of volunteering opportunities.

Representatives from a wide variety of charities and third sector organisations shared their concerns that volunteering opportunities were not as beneficial as they could be, and that their adverts only reached a small proportion of service users. Young adults with experience of the criminal justice system, and that work on User Voice councils, gave valuable insights into what makes a good volunteering opportunity and offered advice on how to make them accessible to a wider variety of young adults.

Volunteering in the community is an extremely valuable way for service users to gain experience that can help facilitate their move towards employment. Having the opportunity to discuss these issues with the people providing the positions will help maximise the reach and benefit of voluntary roles for both the organisations and service users.

Many thanks to the ICPR for co-producing this extremely successful event!









NEW ENGLAND YOUR ENGLAND FILMS: Max and Mark

These new videos, first screened at our 'Marketplace of Ideas' Conference earlier in October, are now available to view online anywhere, anytime, and you can also share them with friends, family and colleagues! 

The films are part of the England Your England series of short documentaries directed by the UK filmmaker Matt Hopkins.They are incredibly powerful and we would like to thank all those at Your England who made them possible.

Max Tucker is a full time Programme Manager at User Voice. He began volunteering in July 2012 and has been in his current position since July 2013. Max is currently working on council projects with London Probation Trust (LPT).



Mark Nash is a full time Programme Manager at User Voice. He is currently working on council projects with London Probation Trust, HMP Maindstone and HMYOI Aylesbury. 

MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS User Voice Conference 2013


CLICK HERE for more info and photos as well as the videos screened on the night and a new film of the event itself!

On Wednesday 9th October we hosted our 'Marketplace of Ideas' conference in Parliament at Portcullis House. 

Guests included Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords, academics and policy executives, those from the Prison, Probation and Youth Offending sectors and representatives from national charities and social enterprises. 

The event was a fantastic opportunity for User Voice staff and volunteers as well as the delegates that attended. To see so much passion for and dedication to Service User involvement was really encouraging and we’re sure the enthusiasm seen at the event will mean User Voice continues to grow so that more Service Users can have a voice in improving the institutions they’re involved in. 

A special thanks must go out to the venue staff as well our volunteers and Council Members who represented User Voice so well and did the organisation and themselves extremely proud.

CLICK HERE for more info and photos as well as the videos screened on the night and a new film of the event itself!

ELECTION RESULTS: HMP Birmingham and HMP Maidstone Prison Council Election Results

In September User Voice co-ordinated the elections for the Prison Council's in HMP Birmingham and HMP Maidstone.

The results were really encouraging with overall turnout increasing by 19% in HMP Birmingham and 9% in HMP Maidstone.

For more detailed results from these elections, please click here for HMP Birmingham election and here for HMP Maidstone.

If you would like to learn more about our Prison Councils generally, please click here

EXCLUDED YOUNG PEOPLE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!!!

We don’t normally do things like this, but we felt it was so important…

We'd like to take a group of young people from around the country with experience of the youth justice system to this year’s Annual Youth Justice Convention on 26 November 2013 in Birmingham.

We'll ensure we get to the hardest to reach and most excluded groups so that their views can be heard by senior youth justice staff. But to get them there we need your help!

For this traditionally excluded group to attend and meaningfully participate in events like this they need support and training to engage with youth justice professionals.

The cuts are affecting all sectors, and this year we must raise our own funds to support this group of young people to take part in the Convention.

Young people from our projects at youth offending services around the country are already planning their own fundraising efforts.  But we need your help too. Anything you can donate will be gratefully received.

The link to our MyDonate page for the event is here.

We'd be grateful if you could share this link (https://mydonate.bt.com/events/yjconvention2013) with your colleagues and friends who may wish to support.

The process of involvement and being heard is a profound experience for excluded young people. Highlights of the event last year can be found here (http://www.whatsyourstory.uservoice.org/whats-your-story-2012). This is what some of the participants had to say on the experience:

"Today was great, I think people really listened, and it shows that we need to part of the solution"
 
“I never thought I would stood up in front of those people and been able to say my thoughts and people seemed to listen and kept coming up to me after saying how well I had done!"
 
“It was really good. I felt like I could do it for good, and I'm making all the people that I know proud of me…I'm making a change for the better and I could do it as a job.”
 
“I'm so glad I done it, was amazing to be honest. Words can't describe how amazing it was and how fab people were! Just mind-blowing!”


User Voice staff are also bidding for small pots of local funding and seeking sponsorship, please also let us know if you can support with either.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and your ongoing support.






Impact of Essex Peer Mentoring Programme Grows and Grows

Since October 2012, User Voice’s Peer Mentoring project with Essex Probation has been training ex-offenders to use their own experiences to provide support to other service users. The project harnesses the unique and invaluable experience of those who have successfully improved their situation to mentor others. With first-hand experience of how it feels to go through the criminal justice system, mentors can give encouragement and reassurance to those going through the same things they have.


Giving something back and helping other service users in this way is rewarding both emotionally and practically. Mentors, who are identified through a careful selection process, are able to add to their list of achievements whilst improving their own employment opportunities. Mentors have informed of the benefits they have reaped by taking part in the programme. This feedback has included; “taking part has helped me to stay on the right path”, “this training has helped me to come to terms with my own past and move on”, “by doing this training I can get a qualification and I have never had one before”, “the programme has helped to improve my self-esteem”, “by coming to the mentoring training I feel less socially isolated and actually feel that I belong”.


After completing the training the mentors receive a recognised qualification, an OCN Level 2 Award in Peer Mentoring. In addition, Essex Probation have committed to providing further support to mentors in the form of employment for successful candidates as Case Supporters. Four mentors have recently had successful interviews for Case Supporter positions, demonstrating the impact that the project is having.


This innovative Peer Mentoring programme aims to contribute towards the reduction of re-offending by offering a service that recognises the changes ex-service users of the criminal justice system make to their lives. Furthermore this programme is enabling such people to contribute towards the delivery of criminal justice services to aid their desistence from crime.


A joint statement from Mark Johnson and RAPt about the transformative potential of peer support




Joint statement from Mike Trace, CEO of RAPt and Mark Johnson, Founder and CEO of User Voice

The Transformative Potential of Peer Support: Why peer mentoring rightfully has a role in the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda and can help to reduce re-offending.

The Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation strategy calls for mentoring support for offenders and identifies that providing peer role models and support systems has an important contribution to make in helping to turn offenders’ lives around.

The Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust (RAPt), the largest provider of drug and alcohol treatment in British prisons, and User Voice, a pioneering organisation led by ex-offenders, have experienced the transformative impact of peer support in their work, and wholly support this position.

Collectively we believe that mentoring support can be pivotal in helping service users to believe that they can take responsibility for their actions and turn away from crime, and that this can have a significant and measurable impact on re-offending. Through our work we can provide evidence that offenders have a lot to give and a lot to gain from peer support, but that gaining a real understanding of what such mentoring support looks like in practice is critical to its success.   

Our Approach
RAPt and User Voice share a vision of how this can be delivered. To be effective, peer supporters must be highly committed, and well supported, individuals who have instant credibility with clients. They can say that they have walked in their shoes and represent the idea that – ‘if I could make these changes, so can you’.

We recognise the role that offenders have in shaping services and provision for themselves, and the value of one offender helping another. We do very different work in different areas, and as such can demonstrate the range and scope of peer-led work and its multiple benefits.

RAPt
RAPt founded the first independent drug treatment facility in a British prison in 1992. Over the last twenty years we have continually developed and adapted our services to meet the ever changing and emerging needs of our service users (offenders with drug or alcohol problems), their families and carers, and to provide community based and through-the-gate substance misuse services. Peer support and the principle of one person in recovery helping another is a crucial feature of our intensive substance misuse programmes, which have been proven to deliver a 21% reduction in re-offending 12 months post-release (measured on the binary scale). 

Peer support can be critical to maintaining recovery especially at key stages of an offender’s journey, such as release or transfer when people are vulnerable to relapse.  All peer supporters have defined roles and responsibilities, backed up by a comprehensive package of stepped-training, support and supervision.

- Our peer support network is active in 28 prisons as well as the communities where we work
- Almost 100 ‘graduates’ of RAPt programmes are engaged as peer supporters
- A further 80 people are involved in volunteering activities supporting our post-release resettlement services

RAPt’s range of support is continually evolving and includes:

- The first national aftercare service for offenders who have engaged with substance misuse treatment inside prison.
- The only specialist residential substance misuse treatment centre for criminal justice clients.
- A national ‘Meet and Greet’ prison escort scheme which matches volunteers, of whom half are former clients, to offenders on release, ensuring a safe transition to accommodation or community rehab. 
- We are currently rolling out a new programme of dedicated through-the-gate mentoring support across seven prisons in Kent.
- Expansion of our Education, Training and Employment provision including a paid apprentice scheme leading to professional qualifications.

Much of our peer-led provision has been informed directly by service users. This includes the establishment of a programme of peer-led motivational support for service users receiving clinical substance misuse and wanting to progress to abstinence treatment, and a highly successful peer-led aftercare support group.

User Voice
User Voice is unique because its work is entirely led and delivered by ex-offenders. We exist to reduce offending by working with the most marginalised people in and around the criminal justice system to ensure that practitioners and policy-makers hear their voices. User Voice is well placed to gain the trust of and access to people involved in crime or who have direct experience of the criminal justice system as offenders and prisoners.

The entrenched exclusion of some of the people we work with can be a huge obstacle to service providers. The involvement of ex-offenders in rehabilitation services has many benefits, not least of which is the power of a narrative of success; working with ex-offenders can be a powerful way of motivating people who often have little self-belief that they can overcome the barriers they face. All the work User Voice has done suggests offenders want to talk to people who have ‘walked in their shoes’, which is why all our frontline staff are ex-offenders.

User Voice offers a wide range of formal and informal peer support services. As a result of the personal experience of our staff and volunteers all projects delivered have an element of informal peer support. We also deliver more formal peer support projects in a number of prisons, probation trusts and youth offending teams in which we recruit and provide accredited training (as an Open College Network recognised centre) to ex-offenders in order for them to provide support and guidance to others facing similar life experiences, through more structured mentoring. Our peer support is guided by the principle of being mentee-led. Examples include:

- Essex Probation – recruiting 20 peer mentors, training them for a Level 2 award and assisting them in order to develop relationships with up to 80 current Probation service users. A number of these mentors will progress to become paid Case Supporters, employed by Probation.
- CanDo Coffee – a new social enterprise that provides self-employment opportunities for vulnerable groups, including those with experience of offending, addiction and mental health. While the social enterprise is providing training and line management, it recognises the benefit of partnering with a user-led organisation to provide peer support to its employees to assist with any non-work related issues that may prevent them from continuing with or performing their role the highest standard possible.
- South London and Maudsley NHS Trust – delivering an innovative pilot project supporting individuals accessing employment in forensic mental health services, providing them with peer support.

Peer Potential
The Transforming Rehabilitation reforms offer the potential to work with offenders in a much more creative way. Given the undeniable pressure on resources, and challenging activity and outcome targets, bidding partnerships will need to find cost-effective ways to engage and motivate offenders to ensure high compliance, and measurable impact.

In our view this challenge is also an opportunity to embed mentoring and peer-led interventions and positive role models at every stage of an offender’s progression through the Criminal Justice System. We know that peer engagement on an individual basis or in a group setting is a significant change factor, and has the potential for much wider use. 

Significantly, it also presents an opportunity to establish how ex-offenders can mentor others as part of their own re-integration and resettlement in the community. Mentoring and support roles offer personal development, a position of trust and responsibility, and a way to develop leadership and inter-personal skills. Meaningful and realistic opportunities for offenders to progress from this point, gain bankable voluntary experience, and secure employment are needed to capitalise on this potential.

If you are in the process of putting together a bidding partnership, and agree that the creative use of peer support models will be crucial to successful bidding and delivery of Transforming Rehabilitation contracts, then please contact us (transformingrehabilitation@rapt.org.uk) to discuss how the unique culture and services of RAPt and User Voice can enhance your proposals.

User Voice         
Newburn Street,
London, SE11 5PJ
Registered Charity No. 1117438
Registered Company No. is 06820227 

RAPt
Riverside House,
27-29 Vauxhall Grove,
London, SW8 1SY
Registered Charity No. 1001701
Registered Company No. 2560474

User Voice and HM Inspectorate of Probation begin work on new Service User Engagement Pilot

User Voice and HM Inspectorate of Probation have begun work on an exciting new Service User Engagement Pilot.

User Voice will pilot a service user engagement project as part of the Full Joint Inspection (FJI) Programme, which is a joint inspection programme led by HM Inspectorate of Probation and involving a number of partner inspectorates, to reflect the breadth of partners involved in youth offending work.

This pilot is taking place in a Youth Offending Team in June and July 2013 and involves ensuring the views of young people who have offended and their parents and carers are included as part of the Full Joint Inspection Programme.  The pilot will end with a co-production event involving elected youth reps from the inspected Youth Offending Team (YOT) engaging with YOT staff to discuss findings from the pilot.
“HMI Probation have rightly included an element in the Full Joint Inspection of Youth Offending Teams on the involvement of service users in the development and delivery of services. User Voice has consistently demonstrated that one of the best ways to gain these views is by ex-service users themselves facilitating this work. This really is a huge step forward, recognising that participation by young people and their families is absolutely vital in obtaining successful outcomes.”
Bob Ashford, Advisor, User Voice

HM Inspectorate of Probation is the inspecting body of Youth Offending Teams in England and Wales. It is an independent Inspectorate, funded by the Ministry of Justice, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State on the effectiveness of work with adults and children and young people who have offended aimed at reducing re-offending and protecting the public.

For further details contact Anne-Marie Douglas: amdouglas@uservoice.org.

Bob Ashford and Youth Rep Jude Jubey speak at the Criminal Justice Convention 2013


On the 2nd July 2013 User Voice staff and volunteers attended and spoke at the Criminal Justice Convention 2013 on reducing offending and reoffending.

Bob Ashford, founder of Wipetheslateclean and User Voice Advisor, chaired two sessions and spoke at another two during the event.

Jude Jubey, a member of one of our Youth Advisory Groups, joined Bob in a session where they used their own experiences to reflect on the issues associated with criminal convictions, employment and volunteering and the long-term impact of criminal records on people’s lives.

They both also participated in a panel discussion with other youth justice professionals; the discussion, titled ‘Catch Them Young’, included John Drew, Professor in Comparative Youth Justice, Cédric Foussard, Director of International Affairs and International Juvenile Justice Observatory, and Kate Morris, Deputy Chief Executive for Effective Practice, Youth Justice Board for England and Wales.

The event was a fantastic opportunity to create more awareness of what User Voice do among many influential people from the YJB, police, probation and other organisations that attended.

Jude Jubey was praised for his inspiring speech about the issues he has encountered with employment and volunteering from his criminal conviction.


WATCH Mark Johnson give evidence to the Select Committee on Prisoner Voting

This morning User Voice founder Mark Johnson gave evidence to the Joint Select Committee on Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill.

The role of the Committee is to consider and report on the issue of prisoner voting, in light of the UK's current blanket ban on prisoner voting being in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. You can watch a video of the entire 90 minute meeting below:

Also giving evidence to the Committee were Juliet Lyon, Director of The Prison Reform Trust and Rachel Halford, Acting Director of Women in Prison.

One of the things discussed by Mark during the Committee meeting was User Voice's work in setting up Prison Councils in several prisons across the country, which you can read more about here.

In 2011 we published a report on the setting up of a Prison Council at HMP Isle of Wight called 'The Power Inside - The Role of Prison Councils', which you can read here.


You can also read a summary of the 'Power Inside' report here. This describes how Council members at HMP Isle of Wight were given training by market research company So What?, to enable them to undertake a survey of prisoners on their attitudes to voting.

Around 560 prisoners completed the survey, which revealed that just 35% of those eligible voted in the 2005 general election. However, 66% of respondents said that they intended to vote in the next national elections (if able to do so).

Significantly, when split into those that engaged in the Prison Council process and those that didn't, the former group was roughly 50% more likely to want to vote in the next national elections.

Service User Reps meet Prisons Minister at MoJ



13 service users involved in User Voice projects across the country visited the Ministry of Justice yesterday in order to speak with the Prisons, Probation and Youth Justice Minister Jeremy Wright.

This was a unique opportunity for the Government to find out from current service users what they think of the proposed changes that are about to take place within the criminal justice system.


The 13 Reps spoke from their own personal experience, but also articulated the opinions of the service users they represent as members of User Voice Community Councils in London, Kent, Cumbria and Northumbria.

The group also included one member of one of the User Voice Prison Councils, who was granted Release on Temporary Licence for the day specifically to attend this meeting. 
In total, they represented some 27,500 service users across the UK.

I wouldn't have thought I would be stood outside the Ministry of Justice let alone inside it, talking to the Minister.
Council member



NEW RESPONSE: Transforming Youth Custody

In order to gain a service user response to the proposed changes to custodial youth education, User Voice held a series of focus group sessions with young individuals who have experience of youth custody.

The young people were drawn from several of User Voice’s current youth projects.

The focus group questions were designed to engage the service users and encourage them to analyse what impact the proposals would have and the pros/cons of this.

Several themes were identified which are presented here in the form of a series of recommendations.

Click here to read the response: 'Hidden Voices: What Young People Think About Transforming Youth Custody'.


NEW NOMINATIONS for National Diversity Awards

User Voice has been nominated for a Multi- Strand Community Organisation Award at the 2013 National Diversity Awards.

Paula Harriott of User Voice has been nominated for the Lifetime Achiever Award.

The Diversity Awards celebrates the achievements of individuals and groups devoted to enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion in today’s society.

You can nominate both User Voice and Paula Harriott on the Diversity Awards website:

If you would like to NOMINATE USER VOICE please do so here.

If you would like to NOMINATE PAULA HARRIOTT please do so here.

Each nomination counts as a vote; reasons given for choosing an organisation will also be considered by the judges. 

Nominations close July 19th 2013.



"Diversity is the one true thing we have in common; Let’s celebrate it together"


NEW RECOGNITION from Open College Network London

User Voice is now an Open College Network (OCN) London recognised centre.

This means that User Voice will be delivering OCN London qualifications, initially in relation to peer mentoring and peer training.

Service users will train other service users and professionals for OCN qualifications.


READ NEW Service User response to Probation Review



Click here to read the User Voice response INVISIBLE INPUT: What Service Users think about 'Transforming Rehabilitation'.

The response uses feedback from focus groups held with 41 service users to draft recommendations for the Government to consider when finalising changes to community based rehabilitation services.

The proposed changes are outlined in the Ministry of Justice consultation paper, which you can read more about here.


NEW FILM: Interview with Paula Harriott of User Voice on Channel 4 News

Click below to watch User Voice's Head of Programmes Paula Harriott talk to Jon Snow on Channel 4 News on Monday 11th March.

Paula gives insightful reflections on her personal experience of first entering prison and on what Vicky Pryce may be going through whilst beginning her own eight month sentence.


WATCH User Voice founder Mark Johnson give evidence to Irish Justice Committee

Click below to watch User Voice founder Mark Johnson give evidence to the Irish Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality at the Houses of the Oireachtas on 27 February.

Mark outlined his vision for penal reform and presented the successful work of User Voice to date, discussing possibilities of User Voice expanding its work within the Criminal Justice System to Ireland.



Committee Chairman David Stanton, TD, said: “Today we had a very positive and enlightening meeting with Mark Johnson, founder of User Voice...

“...he provided us with a comprehensive and in-depth presentation on his experiences of crime and the penal system and outlined his vision for penal reform and a criminal justice system that would see offenders as key to their own rehabilitation, key to improving the system and instrumental in reducing offending."

You can now view the report of the sub-committee on penal reform in Ireland, released in April 2013 following public hearings, invited submissions and fact-finding trips to Irish prisons as well as abroad to observe the penal estate in Finland.

The report proposes a comprehensive 'decarceration' strategy, to be implemented and to effect a real improvement within a time-frame of 10 years. User Voice are mentioned on page 18. 





NEW VOLUNTEER ROLES: Peer Mentoring Programme (Essex) and Community Council Volunteer (Cumbria)


Volunteer Roles


Role Title
Peer Mentoring Programme Volunteer (Essex)

Purpose of the role
To support User Voice staff in the completion of service user questionnaires, the recruitment of Mentors and Mentees for the programme and to assist the Programme Manager with administrative tasks during training sessions. The work is in various locations in Essex.

Time Commitment
2 - 3 days per week (not exceeding 16 hours)

Duration
4 weeks in addition to a period of training

Responsibilities & Duties
Assist the Programme Manager to:
  - Raise awareness of the Peer Mentoring Programme with service users
  - Facilitate the completion of service user questionnaires
  - Administrative duties during training sessions


Skills & Experience
 - Excellent communication skills.
 - Some knowledge of the Criminal Justice System, particularly Probation. First-hand experience is desirable. 
 - Experience of supporting trainers in teaching environments is desirable.

Personal Qualities
 - A non-judgemental attitude.
 - Good time keeping and punctuality.
 - Ability to keep information confidential.
 - Enthusiasm for User Voice’s mission and aims.
 - Ability to work well with others, as well as individually.

Benefits
 - An invaluable experience working on a high profile project.
 - An opportunity to contribute to an innovative programme.
 - A chance to develop existing skills and gain new ones.
 - Work experience to add to your CV.
 - Support from User Voice staff including a personal development plan.
 - Reimbursement of travel and lunch costs.

Training
You will be provided with full training necessary for you to perform the role.

CRB Check
Yes, CRB checks are done at the earliest possible stage. However your CRB is not a barrier to this work and each case will be reviewed on its merits.

Reference/Interview
Yes, this is a standard requirement for all volunteers.

How to Apply
If you are interested please complete the volunteer registration form indicating the role you are interested in or email volunteer@uservoice.org or call 020 3137 7471.


Volunteer Role

Role Title
Community Council Volunteer (Cumbria)

Purpose of the role
To support User Voice staff in the completion of service user questionnaires and the recruitment of service users for the Community Council project. 

Time Commitment
1-2 days per week 

Duration
4 weeks in addition to a period of training. 

Responsibilities & Duties
Assist the Programme Manager to:
  - Promote User Voice and the Community Council project to service users
  - Facilitate the completion of service user questionnaires

Skills & Experience
Excellent communication skills
Some knowledge of the Criminal Justice System, particularly Probation. First-hand experience is desirable. 

Personal Qualities
A non-judgemental attitude
Good time keeping and punctuality
Ability to keep information confidential
Enthusiasm for User Voice’s mission and aims
Ability to work well with others as well as individually

Benefits
An invaluable experience working on a high profile project
An opportunity to contribute to real positive change
A chance to develop existing skills and gain new ones
Work experience to add to your CV
Support from User Voice staff including a personal development plan
Reimbursement of travel and lunch costs

Training
You will be provided with full training necessary for you to perform the role.

CRB Check
Yes, CRB checks are done at the earliest possible stage. However your CRB is not a barrier to this work and each case will be reviewed on its merits.

Reference/Interview
Yes, this is a standard requirement for all volunteers.

How to Apply
If you are interested please complete the volunteer registration form indicating which role you are interested in or email volunteer@uservoice.org or call 020 3137 7471.


NEW FILM from London Probation Trust

"Why Probation ask personal information about you in our Equalities Questionnaire"

User Voice collaborated with London Probation Trust (LPT) to produce the following short film, in which ex-offenders explain to service users the importance of filling out their equal opportunities forms.

The film will be played across London Probation reception areas in order to raise awareness of the issue and to encourage all users to complete the form.

User Voice organised a workshop for contributors on the day of filming in November 2012, to relax contributors and encourage discussion of issues at hand.

The film was created by London-based freelance filmmaker Julian Langham.
View the video full-size at

Vimeo.

User Voice Youth Reps write latest edition of The Record magazine

The Record magazine cover
The Record is the bi-monthly magazine for law-abiding people facing discrimination and inequality as a result of a criminal record, which is published by UNLOCK, the National Association of Reformed Offenders.

The January/ February 2013 edition is special, not just because it focuses on young people, but because it has been written by them.

The thought-provoking stories in the Young Person Special Edition have been written by 14 talented individuals who are either involved in one of our youth projects or are currently working at User Voice.

We would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all the young people who contributed by opening up about their lives and the challenges they face, as well as offering suggestions on how to improve services for young people.

To read their stories, CLICK HERE...

For more information about our latest youth projects, CLICK HERE...

 
 

NEW FILM: England Your England

Mark Nash, full time Programme Manager at User Voice since May 2011, is the protagonist of one of the four films which compose England Your England, a short film documentary series directed by the UK filmmaker Matt Hopkins.

Mark is currently working on council projects with London Probation Trust (LPT),  HMP Maidstone, and HMYOI Aylesbury.



Mark from England Your England on Vimeo.

NEW VOLUNTEER ROLE: Community Council Volunteer (Cumbria)


Volunteer Role

Role Title
Community Council Volunteer (Cumbria)

Purpose of the role
To support User Voice staff in the completion of service user questionnaires and the recruitment of service users for the Community Council project. 

Time Commitment
1-2 days per week 

Duration
4 weeks in addition to a period of training. 

Responsibilities & Duties
Assist the Programme Manager to:
  - Promote User Voice and the Community Council project to service users
  - Facilitate the completion of service user questionnaires

Skills & Experience
Excellent communication skills
Some knowledge of the Criminal Justice System, particularly Probation. First-hand experience is desirable. 

Personal Qualities
A non-judgemental attitude
Good time keeping and punctuality
Ability to keep information confidential
Enthusiasm for User Voice’s mission and aims
Ability to work well with others as well as individually

Benefits
An invaluable experience working on a high profile project
An opportunity to contribute to real positive change
A chance to develop existing skills and gain new ones
Work experience to add to your CV
Support from User Voice staff including a personal development plan
Reimbursement of travel and lunch costs

Training
You will be provided with full training necessary for you to perform the role.

CRB Check
Yes, CRB checks are done at the earliest possible stage. However your CRB is not a barrier to this work and each case will be reviewed on its merits.

Reference/Interview
Yes, this is a standard requirement for all volunteers.

How to Apply
If you are interested please complete the volunteer registration form indicating which role you are interested in or email volunteer@uservoice.org or call 020 3137 7471.