To shape the Big Lottery Fund’s strategy for £4billion of funding from 2015-21, the Big Lottery launched the campaign Your Voice | Our Vision (http://yourvoiceourvision.org.uk) to encourage people to contribute their view across four themes. These included: Vibrant Communities, Addressing Disadvantage, Working Together and Stronger Sector. Jessica Mullen, Senior Policy and Projects Officer and Local Development Team Manager at Clinks, contributed the following blog:
Funding for specialist criminal justice infrastructure
Clinks is the specialist infrastructure organisation for the voluntary sector working in criminal justice and the Arts Alliance (www.artsalliance.org.uk) which we manage is the national body for promoting arts in the Criminal Justice System. We provide a range of support services for our members in the context of our specialist policy understanding including: information provision about changes in policy; providing voice for the sector to policy makers; specialist capacity building; developing, recording and publicising emerging good practice; provide expert advice and support; and networking and practice sharing.
We also recognise the value of local infrastructure bodies and their knowledge and links. We have worked in partnership with a range of generic and/or local infrastructure organisations to develop projects and activities to bring these skills and expertise together for the benefit of local voluntary sector organisations working in criminal justice.
One example of this is the Safer Future Communities project which ran between Autumn 2011 and April 2013. Clinks led a national partnership of specialist infrastructure and membership organisations including Drugscope, Womens Resource Centre, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services and National Association for Voluntary and Community Action to support local Councils for Voluntary Service to develop and support networks of organisations working on criminal justice and community safety in each police and crime commissioner area. These networks where then able to come together to collectively influence and engage with the new police and crime commissioners in the run up to the elections and afterwards.
This model is able to combine specialist policy and practice knowledge with local knowledge and resources for capacity building and influencing. Providing support for organisations that build the capacity and capability of the voluntary sector and building on partnership models like this could ensure that the vital services provided by both specialist and generic infrastructure organisations can be sustained.
Why this is important:
As fundamental reforms to the delivery of rehabilitation services for offenders begin to take place (see www.clinks.org/criminal-justice/transforming-rehabilitation), the resources to provide support to and a voice for voluntary sector organisations working in criminal justice are limited, and likely to get more so, alongside which, the evidence suggests, demand for such services increases. As outlined in other posts this is taking place at the same time as concern about resources for infrastructure services in general such as local Councils for Voluntary Services.
A key part of our work is voice and advocacy which has always been at the heart of the sector, for example highlighting and tackling inequalities in the Criminal Justice System, especially in relation to women and Black, Asian and minority ethnic offenders, young people, and increasingly other vulnerable or minority groups; and delivering activities to ensure the welfare, human rights and dignity of prisoners, particularly those serving long sentences. Such activities are unlikely to find a place in supply chains pursuing payment by results based on a reduction in reoffending through which criminal justice services will be funded in the future.
In order for infrastructure to ensure that its services are effective, sustainable and efficient, the Ministry of Justice has asked Clinks to co-ordinate an extensive independent review of criminal justice infrastructure support. This will help us to determine the future direction of support and how it should be funded. What do you value most about Clinks, and what do you think we could do to further support your work?