On 22nd July National Offender Management Service (NOMS) published a grant opportunity to work with the six announced reform prisons. They are offering between £30,000 - £150,000 for the voluntary sector to deliver work in one or more of the following areas:
- Listening and responding to people with lived experience
- Improving the prison environment
- Addressing multiple and complex needs
- Addressing the needs of young adults
- Support for children and families
- Support for priority groups and those with protected characteristics in the prison system
- Improving health and wellbeing
- Inspiring creativity through the arts
- Helping people back to work
- Valuing volunteers
- Involving the voluntary sector
If you want to apply you can see the summary here. Please be aware that the closing date is 19th August. To get the full details and respond to the opportunity you’ll need to be registered on the Ministry of Justice eSourcing portal and if you’re having any problems you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 0100 132. If you want to ask questions about the programme, email Ahmed.Choudhry@justice.gsi.gov.uk.
At Clinks we’re happy to see that so many issues of relevance to the sector have been addressed. Many of the issues that are being funded reflect the Clinks Thinks publication that we put together in December 2015 - recognising the need to engage with people who have lived experience to improve the system; work that Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) has done to address multiple needs; the tireless work of the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) alliance that supports a different approach for young adults; the focus that the National Alliance for Arts in Criminal Justice has given to how we can inspire change in people through the arts; the importance of working with families; and the significance of someone’s good health and wellbeing in the desistance process. Equally, we’re happy to see volunteering as a key theme, especially since we launched our research into volunteering in prisons last month.
Clinks ran two events to coincide with the launch of the grants programme. The presentations from those events are attached to this blog and can be found below.
Clinks members tell us time and time again in our State of the sector research that grant funding is vitally important, but we know that the provision of grants from central government has been in sharp decline. In fact grants from the public sector now make up only 5.5% of charity sector income, a decline of over 60% since 2004 (NCVO, Civil Society Almanac 2015). That’s why Clinks recently joined ‘Grants for Good’, a coalition of charities which believe in the huge value of government grant-making to the voluntary sector and which aims to protect it. Grant funding empowers charities and voluntary groups to identify and solve problems, and address needs in a way which is centred around people. The image to the right describes the many advantages of grant funding.
We need more of the same
As I said, grants are in sharp decline and we need more grant funding to support the voluntary sector’s engagement in criminal justice services. In addition to this we want to see grant funding that is accessible to all who have great ideas. This time around, the NOMS voluntary sector grants programme is focussed solely on the six reform prisons, but that leaves over 120 other prisons that are not in scope. It will exclude a range of organisations that could otherwise benefit from a grants programme like this.
We need to be mindful that grants are vitally important, and are a rare and endangered part of the funding landscape. So when they are offered by the public sector it is cause to celebrate and congratulate them. But what we need is more of the same - more grants to support the voluntary sector’s vital role, and grants that are preferably longer-term, with long lead-in times and good consultation with the voluntary sector. The sector needs grants that cover a wide range of issues and settings that allow the sector to show where and how it can innovate. Because this grants programme is focussed on reform prisons it has excluded the female prison estate - this is a real shame and means that great women’s services are not able to use these funds to innovate or shape new services.
We hope that the Ministry of Justice and NOMS will continue to value the voluntary sector’s involvement in shaping better services for people in the Criminal Justice System and their families. This grants programme shows that they do value it, and we will continue to advocate on behalf of the sector to maintain this sort of funding, and broaden its scope in the future.
Further information - presentations from the launch event
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The RR3 special interest group on Covid-19 will today convene voluntary sector leaders to discuss what is needed to mitigate the impacts of the virus on CJS voluntary organisations and the service users they support. We'll publish the key points from the discussion in a blog.