Why We Exist
We believe that the fundamental issue that causes the stubbornly high rates of re-offending and all the other associated problems is the ‘us vs. them’ culture.
Society feels frustrated with those who re-offend repeating cycles of behaviour and not engaging with rehabilitation services. Yet people with convictions feel marginalised by society, with rehabilitation services which are often inaccessible and unhelpful and a system that doesn’t value their input.
Whatever the truth, we won’t reduce crime unless we deal with this division. User Voice’s core belief is that rehabilitation only happens when everyone in the criminal justice system shares responsibility for transforming the ‘us vs. them’ division into real collaboration.
Our role is to improve rehabilitation through collaboration.
At User Voice we build the structures that enable productive collaboration between service users and service providers. We are able to do this because our work is led and delivered by ex-offenders. This gives us the special ability to gain the trust of, access to, and insight from people within the criminal justice system.
The entrenched exclusion of some of the people we work with can be a huge obstacle to service providers. The involvement of ex-offenders 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’ and experienced similar life events.
What We Do
In order to achieve this we do the following:
- User Voice Councils, which provide a platform for service users to have a voice. They have been developed for use within prisons and in the community for probation, youth offending teams and other related services. Their democratic processes enable voices to be heard and focus on collective challenges and solutions.
- User Voice consultations, which are bespoke projects that help service providers and commissioners access, hear and act upon the insight of their users. These include research and specifically designed workshops and have ranged from working with drug users on recovery services, to engaging with excluded and vulnerable young people on the future of social work.
- User Voice peer support, sometimes, through the gate, which provide support for people in the community or those who are leaving custody; one-to-one sessions and peer-led groups give practical help and inspiration. Our supporters are uniquely placed to promote and ignite real change, as advocates and role models.
There are two sides to User Voice’s impact:
- Improving Services – with service user insight and experience, services can become more effective and accessible for hard-to-reach groups.
- Promoting active citizenship – as service users engage with improving the services they access, they develop the skills and behaviours to become contributing members of society.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
User Voice’s Research and Evaluation Team is responsible for overseeing the delivery of research projects commissioned by external policymakers, commissioners, providers and researchers and evaluating the impact of the organisation’s work through its Evaluation Framework.
As a result, there are a wide range of research and evaluation activities that undertaken across the country by Research and Evaluation Team members, other staff within User Voice and external partners, all of which needs to be coordinated.
Key responsibilities include:
- Establishing and maintaining a database which tracks research and evaluation team activity in general and for any specific project.
- Assisting the Research and Evaluation Manager in coordinating engagement with wider User Voice staff.
- Coordinating research activity in areas such as prisons.
- Communicating with external partners project updates both informally and formally through written progress updates.
- Attending internal and external review meetings, record minutes and action points.
- Liaising with User Voice’s Communications Team in order to highlight good news and progress.
In addition to the above duties, the post holder will be required to perform other duties, which are assigned from time to time. However, such other duties will be reasonable in relation to the individual’s skills, abilities and grade.
- A strong and demonstrable commitment to social research and an understanding of its purpose and the promotion of research ethics
- Ability to manage quantitative data using spreadsheets and a willingness to learn to use other statistical packages
- Well organised with the ability to prioritise tasks effectively and meet deadlines amid a range of competing demands
- Ability to communicate confidently with clarity and enthusiasm around User Voice projects and data needs with service users and academic partners
- Competent in IT, with a willingness to learn how to use new software
- Ability to write in a clear and concise way, for both communication and reporting purposes
- Ability to act as an effective, authentic and credible advocate for User Voice’s values, methods and programmes
- A strong and demonstrable commitment to the aims and values of User Voice
- A strong and demonstrable commitment to and understanding of the promotion of equality and diversity
- Experience of the criminal justice system and/or other associated systems as a service user with the ability and motivation to harness this experience positively in working with service users
- Experience in applied social research
- A qualification in research methods and/or social science
Applicants should send a CV and a statement of their suitability outlining their experience against each point of the Person Specification to User Voice, 20 Newburn Street, London, SE11 5PJ or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Equality and diversity
User Voice welcomes applications from ex-offenders and from all sections of the community regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age or disability.
Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) checks
This post is subject to a standard level (to be confirmed) criminal record disclosure check via the new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) processes, as the post holder will have regular unsupervised access to children, young people and/or vulnerable adults. The purpose of the check is to ensure that the nature of the applicant’s criminal record, considered alongside evidence of the applicant’s rehabilitation, does not indicate that his or her employment in this role would put current service users at risk.