How Does User Voice Work?
We believe that to reduce offending, those people who commit crimes need to become part of the solution.
Reducing crime is in the interests of both offenders and society at large. Yet, the people with the greatest insight into the criminal justice system – current and ex-offenders – are rarely asked their opinion.
By not giving them a voice we are ignoring an important asset that could be utilized to improve services.
Only offenders can stop re-offending. User Voice believes that effective engagement with those involved in crime, in prison or who have been in trouble with the law requires an offender-led and delivered organisation.
It is peers, people who have had similar experiences, who can gain the trust of, access to and insight from offenders. That is why User Voice exists.
Reducing re‑offending works best if offenders are motivated to want to break clear of crime and given practical help to assist them to be successful. Those working with offenders therefore need to really understand the lives of offenders and the problems that face them. Organisations like User Voice, drawing on ex‑offenders who have been successful in giving up crime, can help staff to understand offenders better and ex‑offenders can successfully draw on their own experience to help others.
Phil Wheatley, Outgoing Director General NOMS
The process of engaging offenders and ex-offenders through the User Voice approach plays an important part of the rehabilitation process.
When an individual gets involved with a User Voice project, it is often the first time that they have been asked what they think and felt their voice has been heard and valued.
User Voice recruits talented ex-offenders to carry out frontline work. This has a profound impact on their self-confidence; it transforms their long-term employment prospects, and is a chance for them to play a hugely positive role in society. Its also ensures that we practice what we preach and makes us better at what we do.
Prisons are full of individuals who want to change but think they can’t, or lack the courage or skills to try. Enabling those individuals, who are lost in the system, meet past offenders who have changed successfully is one of the most effective and inspiring things I have ever seen in prison. User Voice has provided a unique model of inclusion which has had a profound impact on a wide number of offenders looking for a way out.
Barry Greenberry, Former Governor HMP Isle of Wight