At our recent AGM during our first in-person annual conference since before the pandemic, I presented the Clinks trustee's annual report and the audited financial statements. You’ve no doubt read it cover to cover several times over by now but humour me if you will while I pull out some of the highlights in a year where there was a lot happening.
It is important for Clinks to produce these reports to hold ourselves accountable to the high standards we set for ourselves and to the service and benefit of our members and sector. Clinks is on a journey of establishing ourselves as providing the highest value to our supporters and in that vein – you are not our members, rather we are your charity. This means we take pride in reporting our work and benefit.
As CEO of Clinks, I have the absolute privilege of working with a team of people, such as trustees and staff who go the extra mile every day of every year to do what’s needed. They passionately do this because they truly believe in the power and value of the voluntary sector to help people in the criminal justice system, and their families, realise their power and potential.
This past year, for some of our sector friends this was harder than ever. The environment in which we work is not always conducive to the results we seek, and life can also throw some curve balls. Looking back on last year I want to pay tribute and give thanks to everyone who helped me personally, my family and the team at Clinks to deal with the gigantic curve ball that hit me very early on in the year.
A few years back (though it feels like a lifetime ago), we set out a new three-year strategy – ambitious but pragmatic in what it sought to achieve. Last year was to be the last year of its delivery and a year when we spent time connecting with the criminal justice voluntary sector to look at the future and what they needed us to do. With the impact of covid still very much uncertain we decided in the year to extend our strategic period by a further two years and we developed a new delivery plan, revising goals and programmes of work taking account of the progress and the changing circumstances in which we work, and the sector found itself.
As well as developing this new plan we carried out the activities committed to in the third year of the strategy.
On behalf of voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system, and our 600+ members:
We improved our knowledge of the role and value of voluntary organisations
- Provided one-to-one support and information to over 250 voluntary sector organisations.
- Recruited 13 voluntary sector representatives to establish the Clinks member advisory forum.
- Undertook our largest-ever survey of practitioners working in the voluntary sector, with over 400 responses.
- Developed a new guide, Navigating the Criminal Justice System, to help practitioners understand how the criminal justice system is organised and how it works.
We further established thematic and location-based networks for voluntary organisations and practitioners
- Utilising digital technologies to provide support and opportunities for voluntary organisations to come together regularly through region-specific criminal justice forums in the North East, Wales and London.
- Providing representation at regional and sub-regional strategic boards and meetings in the North East, North West, London and Wales. These included reducing reoffending boards, local criminal justice boards and cross-sector thematic groups to influence and ensure sector involvement and engagement in regional policy and strategy development.
- There are now 70 organisations in our race and justice network where we ran a national programme of free consultancy support for organisations led by and supporting racially minoritised people. 46 organisations received 112 days of free consultancy.
We built on our established reputation as a trusted advocate
- Publishing blogs on Regional Reducing Reoffending Plans, pre-sentence reports and Richard Oldfield’s independent review of the commissioning of day one probation services.
- Researching and publishing findings on the impact of probation unification on the voluntary sector with a particular focus on organisations’ experience of the commissioning of initial services delivered from 1 June 2021 alongside the unified probation service.
- Worked with a range of UK and Welsh government departments and national & local agencies.
We identified emerging issues and provided effective responses
- Holding a series of consultation events in response to the prison strategy white paper with over 130 organisations in the sector, to inform our response.
We catered to the specific needs of organisations
- Published our report on the sector’s experience of probation reform and a final paper from the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Board’s Special Interest Group on Probation highlighting key concerns and recommendations.
- Our Finding your voice training programme targeted voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system with limited experience of using their voice in policy or campaigns. This benefited 142 attendees from 91 different organisations. 82% reported improved confidence in using their voice to influence change after each event.
- We delivered three expert seminars to share and disseminate examples of impactful campaigning and influencing across the wider voluntary sector. Overall, we had 63 attendees across all three events. This included 40 different organisations.
- The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) published: Creativity in a restricted regime: a guide for prison staff.
Our communications programme
- Hosted 63 events, totalling 2,891 attendees.
- Our social media following grew further in this year by 1,672 followers to a total of 27,255 followers across the Clinks and National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.
- Clinks sent regular bulletins, ensuring we delivered vital information to the sector and promoted its work to a wide range of criminal justice stakeholders. We delivered 146 e-bulletins and newsflashes over the year to 21,601 subscribers.
- 11 editions of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance newsletter and 14 newsflashes with information specific to arts organisations and practitioners in the criminal justice system to 6,738 subscribers.
- Clinks produced and published 34 publications during the 2021-22 financial year, including major reports and guides for the sector, briefings, consultation responses and meeting notes.
- Maintained our popular job board. There were 2,632 vacancies posted during the 2021-22 financial year, and that section of the website had over 170,000 views across the year. The Directory of Services had over 31,000 views and the Partnership Finder had over 12,400 views.
I hope that during this last year you benefitted from Clinks’ work on your behalf or alongside you. It is our pleasure to inform, support and represent the criminal justice voluntary sector. We are hugely grateful to every organisation that puts its faith in us and every funder and partner who enables us to do what we do.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your continued support.