A couple of weeks ago, I took part in an excellent event hosted by Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service and the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum. The fact this event was organised represents a real step forward and was thanks to the excellent work that Teresa Clarke, the HMPPS Care leavers Champion is leading on. Here's 4 things I learnt during the event:
1. There is a great will to see things improve for care leavers
The fact that over 230 people travelled to this event is testament to this from prisons, probation services, local authorities and voluntary organisations
2. 25% of male prisoners and 60% of female prisoners are care experienced
Having an understanding of what it means to be 'care experienced' must become a priority for anyone working in Prisons and Probation. One prison officer in his 50s had only heard the term 'in care' the week before the event. Why not use the experience in Local Authorities and the Voluntary sector within this training?
3. Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
The task may seem huge but we can have an impact focussing on:
"One interaction at a time, One relationship at a time. If you are care experienced, you need every relationship you can get, don't assume someone else is having the conversation"
It was so inspiring to hear from Lisa Cherry, to hear her story and to hear of examples of excellent therapeutic work that is happening within pockets of the prison system. Lisa is now a fantastic advocate for people who are care experienced and is looking to set up a new charity 'No more Labels' to support care experienced adults.
4. Professionals must talk, technology must talk
It became clear that a huge hurdle is the difficulty professionals find contacting the right person in a prison, probation, local authority etc. One suggestion was having a lead person for care leavers in each organisation who had a generic email that would remain - such as careleavers@.... even when that responsibility passed to a different staff member. A simple solution but think about the difference it would make to planned resettlement from prison, involving ALL the relevant professionals, now that could be life changing.
Hannah McCowen, Resettlement Passport Co-ordinator