This is a guest blog from Marie Claire O’Brien, Managing Director, New Leaf Initiative CIC. She discusses her experiences of working with Clinks since setting up New Leaf four years ago and how Clinks has supported her and the development of her organisation.
When I started setting up New Leaf Initiative, Clinks were the go-to font of all knowledge on the voluntary sector working in the criminal justice system. I became a member and immediately started tapping into their research and resources to develop the understanding and vital skills that I needed to move forward.
They have continued to support New Leaf throughout with the broad set of tools they offer, such as:
- The policy briefings and reports readily available on the website
- The jobs board, through which new volunteers have found us
- Helping me stay up to date with the sector, through e-bulletins, such as Light Lunch, which is a great bite-sized summary of what is going on in our sector, each and every Friday.
Clinks has given me vital support by offering me the opportunity to bid for a grant for consultancy services. This created a real step change, transforming New Leaf from a consultant-like operation, into a real functioning and efficient organisational entity.
Small organisations need to see best practise elsewhere to help them improve. Clinks sets a great standard in the sector, through its ethos and the amazing team of people and professional approach. They present an aspirational, healthy culture which I want to emulate.
Being based in the Midlands I also really appreciate CEO Anne Fox bringing the roadshows (held for organisations to feed in Clinks’ 2019-2022 strategy) outside of London. Working within a small team, and being a mother means it can be difficult to spare a day to go to London; it has made the organisation and its knowledge so much more accessible for me. I feel part of the conversation.
As a small voluntary organisation Clinks has helped to amplify our voice. I don’t have time to write independent briefs or petitions into the Ministry of Justice, so by responding to Clinks’ calls for evidence, through their State of the sector surveys and by attending the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group meetings and workshops, I am able to participate in the debate and be heard as part of the collective voice of the voluntary sector working in the criminal justice system. This amplification of the collective voluntary sector’s voice is vital if we are to affect policy and funding strategies, as well as improving the criminal justice system for all involved in it.
Since becoming CEO, Anne Fox has brought a real personal touch to Clinks, having an open dialogue and addressing any concerns on social media and promoting our work. I see co-hosting this year’s AGM on 7th November as a huge opportunity, which I’m grateful for. It is another example of Clinks giving its members a platform to raise both the profile of their work and their credibility. I look forward to seeing the team and meeting many more of Clinks’ friends and supporters at the AGM, to celebrate their achievements and wish them a Happy 20th Birthday!
Thank you all for the hard work and support you give the voluntary sector working in the criminal justice system, it is appreciated more than you could know.