Make your voice heard
This year was the tenth survey we have carried out to help us to understand the experiences, opportunities, and challenges organisations are facing now. Year after year, we have heard how you have adapted your services and strategies to continue to support people in contact with the criminal justice system and their families.
In this blog I explain why the research is so important to Clinks.
Last year we heard a mixed picture. Staff levels were stable but recruiting skilled and experienced staff is increasingly challenging. Some organisations were optimistic about their financial sustainability over the next two years, but this confidence decreased the smaller the organisation. Remote working is here to stay but face-to-face services were returning.
Overall, the number of responses was down on the previous year, and we reflected on what this meant for our findings, and the reasons behind it. A significant proportion of those who responded were from medium and large organisations, and we heard from fewer smaller organisations than in the past. So, if you represent a small organisation, we really want to hear from you in the future.
We were pleased that the proportion of organisations supporting racially minoritised people was up ten points compared to 2021. We recognise – from the last few years’ research, and from our regular contact with the sector – that these are challenging times. Taking time out of the working day to complete a survey might feel impossible. But without your input, we cannot work to support you, or to influence and create change.
Here are just some of the reasons your response matters:
1. To understand the current landscape of the criminal justice voluntary sector
The criminal justice voluntary sector is diverse: from small and specialist organisations, all the way through to large national organisations, supporting and maintaining the sector’s breadth and expertise is vital. We need your responses to accurately reflect the experience of the whole sector and help us support, promote and represent the sector, and to best do that we need the clearest possible picture.
2. To collect the robust evidence we need to influence for change
Each response to our survey will help us to update this vital source of data. We work alongside researchers from the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) to help ensure our data is robust, but we need your responses to ensure it remains a representative, authoritative, and trusted source of information.
State of the sector 2022 was presented to the Third Sector Strategic Partnership Board, key officials in the Ministry of Justice and HM Prison and Probation Service, and the Association of Charitable Funders Criminal Justice Network. We have used data from the report in Parliamentary submissions, including to the Justice Select Committee, the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee, and the Public Accounts Committee. We use the report in our day-to-day work to identify priorities for our influencing, events, and support work.
3. To take a close look at the financial sustainability of the sector
Responding to last year’s survey, organisations reported an overall increase in funding, but this was against a background of pandemic recovery, and may not accurately reflect the current and future challenges facing the sector. The cost of living crisis was driving up organisations’ operating costs even then, and we know from our networks that this has become more urgent.
4. To celebrate the work of the sector
While parts of the survey look to explore the challenges the sector is facing, and will need to overcome, we know the sector has a huge number of successes every week.
The variety in organisations’ primary areas of work is an enduring feature. Their flexible and comprehensive approach to meeting people’s needs is characteristic of the sector. One of the areas that has seen the largest growth is peer support, and almost all organisations said they involved people with lived experience of the criminal justice system in their work. Nearly two-thirds of organisations said they recruited people who accessed their services as staff, volunteers, or trustees.
As much as anything, we use this research to promote and celebrate the great strengths, diversity, and dynamism of the sector. The more voices contributing to the research, the more there will be to celebrate.
Please contact Clinks Policy Officer, Franklin Barrington, at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions about our State of the sector work.
Scan the QR code or visit https://linktr.ee/clinksstateofthesector to access more information on State of the sector.
Latest on Twitter
.@hibiscuscharity have launched a report - funded by Clinks - which explores the complex issues faced by Black, minoritised and migrant women in contact with the CJS and the resulting impacts on their mental health.
Read the report here: https://hibiscusinitiatives.org.uk/media/2023/06/rmc-mental-health-report-document.pdf