On 21st November in York, where the charity was founded 21 years ago, we launched our Annual report and financial statements for the year ended 31st March 2019 during our Annual General Meeting for 2019. It’s a big report, so I thought it might be helpful to reflect on some headlines and highlights, grouped under our strategic objectives.
The biggest news of the year was that we undertook the development process of our strategy which we launched at our last AGM and started to implement in April 2019.
1. Promote the work and value of the voluntary sector in the criminal justice system, with a particular focus on smaller specialist organisations
Our year in numbers indicates some of our achievements and especially our growing reach. This was in part enabled by our new website which we launched at our last AGM, developed with you in mind, visits to which increased by 19%.
Work to promote the sector included our ‘Insider’s view of prisons and probation today’ event held in partnership with the now Lord Mayor of the City of London. The event showcased the work of the sector to charitable funders who do not already invest in this area of work. The response to the event was very positive. This year’s event is on Monday 9th December.
2. Support voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system with individuals and their families
Our support work with the sector included 43 events and the vast programme of work of our thematic networks, not least of which is the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance which became an Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation as part of its national portfolio.
We’ve also continued to provide dedicated support to family support organisations as well as investing some of Clinks’ reserves to develop a network for specialist women’s organisations to take forward our plans on merging Women’s Breakout into Clinks in 2017.
3. Represent and advocate for the voluntary sector and its service users
Our final trackTR report which highlighted how under represented, under pressure and under resourced the sector’s work was with the probation system directly influenced future plans for probation which the government began consulting on in July 2018.
Our policy work has also continued to focus on racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system as well as on the specific needs of women and of families.
4. Identify challenges and opportunities facing the voluntary sector and its service users, and work together to find solutions
We worked with Unlock to ensure that charities were informed about restrictions on staff and trustees with convictions and supported members pursuing applications for waivers from the Charity Commission. We’re committed to ensuring that people’s convictions will not be a bar to charities having access to the talent they need and that people with convictions can access the full range of opportunities into the future despite things that have happened in their past.
5. Clinks being effective, efficient and professional in our work and operations. Ensuring we have the systems, resources and processes to achieve maximum impact
We invested in our financial, governance and HR capability so that we can work as effectively and efficiently as we can to deliver our future strategy and give you what you need.
We also commissioned an independent assessment of our impact. It considered whether we are providing the range of services and activities that our stakeholders want and need, what difference we make to our members and whether our work is of good quality. We launched the impact assessment report alongside the annual report.
Our future plans
Looking to the 2019/20 year the focus is to start to roll out the new strategy.
We will have a real focus this year on making sure we use every opportunity we can to talk about your value and role and how that’s best enabled to funders, policy makers and commissioners.
We will continue to focus support where we are funded in specific areas across England and for the sector working in Wales. Our training and events programme will respond to need and changes in the future external landscape.
Our policy work will continue to work across the UK and Welsh Governments, and their agencies, to have the right relationships on your behalf to affect the changes we need to see. We will continue to concentrate on the future of probation as well as the implementation of the Female Offender Strategy, Lammy and both Farmer Reviews’ recommendations.
The National Criminal Justice Alliance’s landmark Inspiring Futures programme will start this year. It will advance knowledge into why arts interventions impact on lives of people in the criminal justice system and how to optimise the effect.
We will also review the work of our women’s network, working with members to understand their priorities and needs and making changes to what we do if needed. 2019/20 sees us collate and publish a collection of essays and creative responses to the question “What should happen to people who commit criminal offences?” on behalf of the Monument Fellowship – have you read it and listened to the podcast yet?
In this year we will focus on understanding how best to manage our finances to use our resources to best effect. We will respond to our impact assessment and our new Chair will lead a focus on ensuring we are governed in the best way and work most effectively as a wider team of staff and trustees to reach our goals.
Our treasurer Simon Alsop made remarks about our financial statements 2018/19 at our AGM. Read them here.
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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.