Clinks is delighted to have been awarded the HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) grant for infrastructure support for small and medium-sized voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations 2022-25. In this blog our Chief Executive Anne Fox outlines the key areas of work the grant will enable us to deliver over the next three years.
The need for infrastructure support for the voluntary sector working in criminal justice has never been greater. Our State of the sector research – due to be published on 11 April – highlights how organisations have, over the last two years, adapted their delivery in response to the pandemic and in the context of significant and fast-moving changes within the operational landscape, while also responding to wide sweeping reform of the probation system and prisons. Organisations have benefitted from emergency funding from the government and charitable trusts at this time but have significant concerns about the future pipeline of funding for their work. They also tell us that the impact of the pandemic on their service users continues. Therefore, the need to adapt services in response to changing and increasing need is ongoing.
This grant will enable to us:
- Provide practical support for the voluntary sector
- Improve communications between the sector and HMPPS and MoJ
- Develop strategic engagement with the sector on matters of policy.
The focus of the infrastructure grant matches well with Clinks’ main priorities and will enable us to deliver activity across the organisation, under each of our five strategic objectives. It will enable us to continue to provide support to voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system and facilitate engagement between this sector and criminal justice partners following what has been an extraordinary two years for organisations and their beneficiaries.
Clinks aims to maintain and grow the members it has. We have recently made improvements to the benefits which members receive and are following through on our commitment to make sure Clinks membership continues to be extremely cost effective – in fact this will be free in many cases. Having received this grant, we are committed to ensuring that the number of micro and small organisations (those with an income of less than £100k) within our membership is at least 150.
The funding contributes towards the work of our area development team, who support organisations to work and engage effectively with probation areas, prisons and other key criminal justice and statutory stakeholders, responding to issues regionally as well as sharing information on the national picture. This focus increases understanding and engagement with regional stakeholders, to ensure the voluntary sector has a voice and access to those it is looking to work with, increasing partnership and more joined up approaches. As a single point of contact, our regional voluntary sector development officers provide a more efficient and effective communication channel.
Our regional work can be split into the following five areas. This ensure we strike the right balance between providing ways of supporting and engaging with the voluntary sector across England and Wales with limited resource, whilst also providing dedicated support to particular areas where there is specific need. These three areas are part funded by this grant:
1. England-wide. To ensure the voluntary sector across England is engaged and supported.
2. Wales. With a devolved government, and criminal justice remaining a responsibility of the UK Government, the voluntary sector in Wales faces unique challenges and opportunities.
3. North of England. From a long-standing focus by Clinks on the North East, and an increasing focus on the devolution agenda in Greater Manchester, the voluntary sector in the North has particular needs.
In addition, two other areas are funded through charitable funding:
4. London (not funded by HMPPS). The need for a strong- co-ordinated sector with a voice in decision making, well placed to partner with stakeholders and address London’s challenges the make the most of the devolution opportunity.
5. MEAM systems change (not funded by HMPPS). Clinks is part of the Making Every Adult Matter coalition and has a focus on people experiencing multiple disadvantage.
We aim to expand our regional reach further by developing partnerships with regional stakeholders and other funders to increase the support and engagement of the voluntary sector. We continually assess the need, opportunities and potential for securing funding to have dedicated regional voluntary sector development roles in specific regions.
Alongside Clinks’ regional focus, we also have thematic networks for organisations that specialise in working with women, racially minoritised people and those working in the arts, which complement this regional approach. This grant also contributes towards this work, funding thematic network meetings and regular ebulletins.
Under the grant we will also engage with charitable funders to promote the work of the sector and to support relationships between charitable funders and HMPPS and the MoJ. During the pandemic, through the infrastructure grant 2018-2021 (plus one year extension), Clinks was also able to work with HMPPS to support them to provide small grants for work in response to Covid-19. The grant for 2022-25 has not requested or provided for any additional small grant funding programmes but we will continue to work with HMPPS to explore the need for this and the potential to respond.
Communications between the sector and HMPPS and MoJ
This grant enables Clinks to continue to ensure the sector has up to date information on key criminal justice developments through our weekly newsletter, Light Lunch, our monthly policy bulletin and our specialist information bulletins for organisations working in the arts (through the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance) and with women. We will also continue to provide our Directory of Services and maintain and develop our website and social media, utilising technology to make information available in the most accessible and timely manner possible.
Under the grant Clinks will engage regularly with senior stakeholders in HMPPS and MoJ to provide information and feedback based on the knowledge, expertise and experience of the sector gained through our regional support, our survey of the sector’s support needs and our annual state of the sector survey which provides a comprehensive picture of how the voluntary sector working in criminal justice is faring.
Strategic engagement with the sector on matters of policy
With this grant, Clinks will continue to provide the Chair and Secretariat for the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group (RR3) which provides a key interface between the voluntary sector and the Ministry of Justice, in order to increase mutual understanding and build a strong and effective partnership. The group is made up of senior experts from the voluntary sector and meets quarterly with civil servants to provide guidance and feedback on MoJ policy developments. Each year the RR3 will convene up to three special interest groups to explore specific policy areas in further detail, to which additional members from the sector can be co-opted.
Clinks will also support the development of the newly established Third Sector Strategic Partnership Board and facilitate improved relationships with policy makers, including through greater co-production between the voluntary sector and policy makers on priority areas and policy solutions.
We will continue to undertake our wider influencing and voice work, which is funded through other charitable funders, to represent the voluntary sector working in criminal justice and ensure their knowledge and expertise is utilised in the development of policy.
We look forward to the delivery of the grant over the next three years, using it to continue supporting a sector which – while facing considerable challenges – has shown itself time and again to be resilient and unwavering in its commitment to supporting people in contact with the criminal justice system to transform their lives.
How to get involved with the Clinks group that advises the Ministry of Justice
Summary note of the RR3 Future Regime Design SIG meeting
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We have published our annual report and financial statements 2021-22. The report sets out our activities, achievements this year and plans for future work towards our strategic goals. Read the full report here: https://bit.ly/3iMbdX7