We are a unique ex-offender led charity that brings lived experience to the heart of systemic change. We bring about transformation for individuals and institutions by empowering the most marginalised in society – so the system can work for everyone.
User Voice was founded in 2009 by Mark Johnson MBE, an ex-offender and former drug abuser. Mark is the best-selling author of Wasted, and respected social commentator.
Mark’s story is just one example of the transformative change which we strive to achieve for many others. Mark’s direct contact with the criminal justice system, and later as an employer of people who’d been in prison and consultant for government and other charities, left him convinced of the urgent need to create a model of service user engagement that is fair for all involved.
We exist to reduce offending and support rehabilitation by working with the most marginalised people in and around the criminal justice system, to ensure that practitioners and policy-makers hear their voices.
We are committed to making the criminal justice system work for everyone. When people receive the support to stop reoffending, the whole community benefits.
We are independent and work in a democratic way. We don’t select who speaks. Neither does the prison, probation, or anyone else. We let the community decide who it wants to represent itself. And our elected reps are broadly representative of their community.
Most importantly, we are user-led. We have been there, done it and got the t-shirt. We know what it’s like to be locked up in prison. To have drug, alcohol, and mental health issues, to live on the streets, and to try and piece your life back together.