‘An insider’s view of prisons and probation in 2019’ was organised by Clinks and hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell at Mansion House on 9th December 2019. This event introduced the life changing work of voluntary sector criminal justice organisations to an audience of funders including livery companies and charitable trusts.
“A wonderful and very impressive evening full of great practice, persuasive facts and real life that couldn't have failed to have moved hearts and minds” - Attendee
This was an event of emotions and extremes. In the context of the grandeur of Mansion House - very much apart from the world that those who work in our sector, and who benefit from its services, usually occupy - we heard about the lives of people who’ve had contact with the criminal justice system. We heard about the multiple disadvantages they face – people who described the impact of poverty, abuse, mental ill health and drug use on their lives.
While seeing a demonstration of the passion and commitment of the charities in criminal justice to addressing these needs, we also heard that this was shared by Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, before this was tragically cut short in the attack at Fishmonger’s Hall. As Lord Mayor, William Russell said before a minute’s silence “their passion for creating a more tolerant society we must now carry forwards ourselves.”
The Lord Mayor opened the evening by praising the passion, scale and diversity of voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system, saying “it is impossible not to be inspired.” Anne Fox, Clinks’ CEO highlighted Clinks’ role in supporting them and their need for “access to sufficient, sustainable levels of income suited to their needs.”
Clinks’ Chair, Roma Hooper, gave an overview of the range of multiple disadvantage and structural inequalities that typically lead someone to coming into contact with the criminal justice system, describing poverty and homelessness, adverse childhood experiences such as abuse and neglect, problems at school, mental ill health and substance misuse. “We are failing to support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged” she said.
We then moved on to the performances from the sector. First up was No Place Productions with a powerful extract from their captivating theatre performance ‘Revolving Door’ which follows 24 year old Michael who has just been sentenced to a short stint in prison. Their performance served to illustrate the complexities, for prisoners and loved ones, of navigating family life and parenthood when one of the family is in prison.
Shannon Trust highlighted the number of people in prison with limited literacy and showed us the transformative power of reading, and the additional challenges of prison life when you can’t read.
We then heard from Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre about their work with sex workers in Peterborough and Cambridge. The presentation gave the women they work with the opportunity to have their voices heard through video interviews, discussing the struggles and challenges that they have lived through and continue to experience.
The final presentation came from Project 507 who provide compassionate interventions for young people leading harmful lifestyles, designed and delivered by trained people within their communities. They got everyone on their feet and literally juggling, to demonstrate the difficulties young people face when juggling a legacy of trauma and complex emotions in their lives.
After the presentations were finished everyone had the opportunity to walk around to find out more about the organisations who were showcasing their work through stalls around the room. Interactive stalls from Beyond Recovery, Code4000, Kahaila-Essence, Life Cycle, The Nehemiah Project, and Safe Ground provided insight into their life-changing work.
For the second year in a row and building on the success of last year’s event, the night provided an inspiring snapshot of the diversity and range of organisations that work in this space. We hope it has encouraged funders to support or continue to support them, especially in the context of our latest State of the Sector report which highlights the ongoing challenges that voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system are facing in terms of securing sustainable funding.
Thank you to everyone who came, including our members for showcasing their work and the Lord Mayor for so generously hosting and providing refreshments.