It is almost a year since Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE) and Clinks joined forces to support the voluntary sector working in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) in the North East. I spent a great deal of time reflecting upon our achievements last week in order to write a progress report for our funder Northern Rock Foundation.
This partnership has enabled me to gather intelligence on the voluntary sector in the North East; utilising VONNE’s presence in the North East and Clinks’ policy function at a national level. Strong links have been made with statutory sector organisations and commissioners to ensure the voluntary sector play a vital role in service delivery. The project has enabled the sector to get to grips with a rapidly changing criminal justice policy landscape, and understand how this will effect voluntary organisations working in the North East. Intelligence from the North East has been fed into Clinks’ national policy work and the leadership of the charity, which is adding a valuable perspective that was previously missing.
- The views of 54 organisations were collated into a report ‘a snapshot from the North East: the voluntary sector working in criminal justice’ and a number of recommendations that include;
- Access to income needs to be prioritised
- Increased investment in effective partnerships and collaboration
- Police and crime commissioners (PCC) in the North East need clear strategy and structure for engaging the voluntary sector
- Ensure effective communication and information sharing with the voluntary sector
The report has been distributed to key contacts at a local, regional and national level. On the back of this report one PCC has allocated an engagement budget and is in the process of developing a voluntary sector strategic forum. Another PCC has committed to engaging with the sector through our Safer Future Communities Network.
Other highlights include:
- The Making Every Adult Matter pilots in Sunderland and North Tyneside have come such a long way; both partnerships now have coordinators in post to provide long term support and flexible services to a number of clients with high levels of multiple and complex needs.
- The VONNE website has been refreshed to provide a guide to the Criminal Justice System in the North East, with key contacts, policy updates and briefing notes. The web pages have received 2190 visitors over the course of the year, with the Safer Future Communities Network Directory being by far the most popular.
- We are working with Barefoot Research and Evaluation to produce case studies of good practice from the North East and sharing these across the Country. Four case studies have been produced so far.
- Over 230 people have attended our 5 regional events which have covered a range of topics; from multiple needs; Transforming Rehabilitation; to ‘The Role of Women’s Specialist Services in Tackling Health Inequalities in the North East’
The first year has been successful, both in terms of promoting the project and supporting the voluntary sector to develop strong links with the statutory sector. It has been a challenging year with the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms providing a rapidly changing, and often unclear, landscape. The project is at a critical point in terms of developing relationships with the statutory sector. Over the next 12 months we envisage that the engagement of the voluntary sector will become more fully embedded in statutory sector activity.
If you would like to know more about our work in the North East then contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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