Serving Them Right?
The Government’s Supporting People programme, which funds, reviews and improves housing-related support services, commissioned User Voice to conduct a user-led consultation with offenders with multiple complex unmet needs, particularly those with mental health issues and those from the armed forces.
We were supported in this project by the About Turn Community Interest Company, a social enterprise which aims to improve the lives of ex-service personnel.
The aim was to gain an insight from offenders about their experiences of obtaining and sustaining suitable housing and employment.
21 prisoners took part in 2 workshops held in June 2010 in HMP Kirkham. The criteria for inclusion was that they had experience of one or more of the following: mental health issues, homelessness and/or having served in the armed forces. Some of these participants also conducted peer-led surveys on their wings to engage a wider group.
The discussions identified a number of systematic barriers that obstructed progress: poor communication, a lack of continuity or consistency and insufficient access to peer support.
As in all User Voice’s work, participants were encouraged to be solution focused and to take responsibility to think about not only the problems they faced, but possible improvements that they and others could make.