“TRIED, FAILED, TRIED, FAILED, TRIED, SUCCEEDED”
We were delighted to hold our first meeting of our National council on 6/8/2020.
The National Council is funded by THE NATIONAL LOTTERY so that we can bring together ideas and feedback from all our local councils and understand what issues are affecting people on probation across the country.
At User Voice we lead by experience. That means that 80% of our team have been in prison or on probation themselves, all our council members are currently in prison or on probation and our experience is more valued, it’s invaluable.
The national council borrows its model from the rest of the User Voice councils. That means council members are representative because they’re not cherry picked; they’re democratically chosen by their peers. We work together to understand what the most pressing issues are for people on probation and we come together to solve them.
It’s COVID and so instead of the big, inaugural event with all the bells and whistles we got straight down to business on Zoom.
Our first meeting was well attended with 10 representatives from our local councils. Everyone came armed with the big issues from their regions. These included communication with probation officers, opportunities for training and education, and mental health.
Like so many Zoom calls of the last 3 months, we started with an icebreaker. We asked council members to each write a 6-word story about themselves. The creativity was evident, and the ice was broken. This was our favorite:
“Tried, failed, tried, failed, tried, succeeded”
WE’RE HERE FOR CHANGE
Then we looked in on the proposals and ideas that people on probation have shared with their local councils. From the 3 biggest topics the decision was made to focus on mental health.
MENTAL HEALTH COMES UP AGAIN AND AGAIN.
It’s not surprising because because 39% of people on probation experience poor mental health, compared to just 25% in the rest of the population. And that was before lockdown and pandemic when feelings of hopelessness have spiked across the world.
For people on probation that has been exacerbated due to lack of access to normal services, isolation, and the same uncertainty that everyone has experienced during the pandemic.
10% of all the ideas put forward from our local council have been about mental health. So that will be our focus for the next period of the council.
The next step is go home, find out what has been working in each region and come together to see how we can use this insight to influence and affect policy.
We’ll keep you updated on which initiatives are working, which regions are figuring it out and what we’re going to do about it.