Highlights from our Annual conference and AGM 2021 held on 23rd-25th November.
Clinks’ Annual conference brings together people working in the criminal justice system – from the voluntary sector and beyond – to stimulate ideas, celebrate outstanding work and learn from each other. For the second year in a row, we held our conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) online due to Covid-19, and although we were sad not to see familiar faces in person, we were delighted to welcome more than 250 people over three days of activities.
This year’s theme was Building A Better Future – which acknowledged the difficulties of the past year and a half, but focused on moving forward, learning from tough times and seizing this moment for change.
The essential role of the voluntary sector
We began the conference with a confident vision from Matt Grey, Executive Director for Reducing Reoffending, Partnerships and Accommodation at Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). He stated HMPPS’s commitment to working together with voluntary sector organisations, saying “We’ve got an ambitious and far-reaching plan of work, but we can’t do this alone. The third sector has a unique and essential role to play.”
He outlined three key areas to improve rehabilitation and resettlement support for people leaving prison: making sure people have a stable home; a steady job; and good health - free from substance misuse.
"I fundamentally believe the third sector collectively is an essential partner of HMPPS, and plays a central role in helping people in our care make a success of their lives. Your contribution is at the heart of better outcomes." Keynote speaker Matt Grey @hmpps pic.twitter.com/mSxqr9g9pb— Clinks (@Clinks_Tweets) November 23, 2021
Following Matt’s keynote speech, Clinks’ Chair Roma Hooper led our AGM, and CEO Anne Fox presented our Annual report and financial accounts for the year ended March 2021. Our annual report details our achievements and progress towards our goals in the second year of our three year strategy, plus our plans for the future.
We were then joined by our panellists: Gemma Fox, Managing Director of North Wales Women’s Centre; Josh Stunell, founder and CEO of bthechange CIC; and Hamish Robertson, Director of St Giles Wise (a partnership between the Wise Group and St Giles Trust).
Josh discussed the importance of service user involvement, saying “the people we support have the answers”. He also described how bthechange adapted during the pandemic and highlighted the importance of agile funding with simple application processes for smaller organisations.
"The biggest learning for us from the last year is about being flexible, not being bound by internal policies and procedures that stop us from being able to react quickly to need." Josh Stunell @bthechangeCIC discusses his experience during the pandemic #BuildingABetterFuture pic.twitter.com/Gskfv8hDrM— Clinks (@Clinks_Tweets) November 23, 2021
Gemma emphasised the “feeling of being done to, rather than done with” when it comes to changes in criminal justice policy and that the government could do more to sufficiently utilise voluntary sector experience and expertise. She also expressed concerns about the direction of policy changes for women in the criminal justice system, with the addition of new prison places for women clearly indicating the wrong direction of travel, as evidence shows the effectiveness of community alternatives.
"It’s concerning that we are increasing prison places for women, when all the research is saying that’s not where women should be." Gemma Fox, North Wales Women's Centre #BuildingABetterFuture pic.twitter.com/99u34fsUwz— Clinks (@Clinks_Tweets) November 23, 2021
Hamish reflected on recent probation reforms, and the disconnect between the Ministry of Justice’s aspirations to work in partnership with voluntary sector organisations and the complicated processes through which organisations have to navigate to bid for probation contracts. He also emphasised the importance of collaboration, saying “it really takes a village of organisations” to support people leaving prison or on probation.
"Collaboration is critical to what we do... It really takes a village of organisations to support people coming out of prison or on probation." Hamish Robertson @StGilesTrust @wisegroup_se #BuildingABetterFuture pic.twitter.com/6kSWCrEtPX— Clinks (@Clinks_Tweets) November 23, 2021
Watch in full
You can watch the video recording of the first day of our AGM and annual conference in full below.
During the next two days we held nine workshops, which were run by our members, covering everything from neurodiversity to yoga and meditation.
Thank you to everyone who joined us, including our wonderful speakers, fantastic workshop leaders, and everyone who participated by listening, asking questions and sharing ideas.
Latest on Twitter
It is imperative that government prioritises and resources the tackling of race inequality in the criminal justice system. It is crucial that voluntary orgs led by and focussed on racially minoritised people are listened to, taken seriously and consulted in these conversations. https://twitter.com/HMIProbation/status/1451073306791223296