“That day in Parliament I felt proud”

One former service user tells us about their visit to the Justice Committee

As somebody who’s been through the criminal justice system I never imagined I would ever be welcomed into a building such as the Houses of Parliament. So, when I was asked to attend to give evidence on the experience of my time in custody and on probation, I jumped at the chance to do so.

I’ll be honest, as we walked into the committee room where the session was taking place I immediately felt intimidated. I really doubted that anything I had to say in the 45 minutes we had been allocated would be taken seriously. But the truth is, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As the chairman of the committee opened the meeting, I was the first to respond and immediately any apprehension I had was dismissed. As each of us gave insight into our experiences within the criminal justice system, the committee listened to every word that was said, even asking us on one occasion our opinion on how the problems we discussed, could be rectified. As the meeting ended, a sincere expression of gratitude was given by the chairman.

To have our voices heard is one thing. But to actually see something being done about it is another. That day in Parliament I felt proud – not just only for myself, but for everyone who at some point in their lives has been part of the criminal justice system – that my voice was heard.

I would like to thank User Voice for the opportunity to attend that day. But also for being the organisation that it is. Because if it wasn’t for them building the pathways to allow service users to have their voices heard, change would never happen.

For further information, please contact research@uservoice.org

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