National Careers Week- A CIAG Success Story

This week is National Careers Week, a one-week celebration of careers guidance across the UK. The Interventions Alliance Careers Information Advice and Guidance (CIAG) team support people within custody, offering them learning and employment opportunities in prison and as they reintegrate back into the community.

One of the programme’s recent success stories came from HMP Leyhill and a participant who, for confidentiality reasons, will be referred to as Prisoner S.

Prisoner S met with advisor Elaine Cotterell and explained that he would be unable to return to his previous profession after his release. Elaine encouraged him to think about any transferable skills he might have, and Prisoner S expressed his desire to embark on a new career as an HGV Driver.

Elaine described her first sessions with Prisoner S and how she understood his goals and motivations: “It became clear that he wanted to help others; he spoke often about ‘giving back.’ I learned that in previous prisons, he had been a Shannon’s Trust Mentor, where he helped others learn to read and write. Based on this, I felt that he would be suited to working as an Orderly, and he was accepted.”

“As part of his role, Prisoner S helped others to build their CVs and complete forms, as well as offering general advice about the prison regime. Alongside this, he wrote his own CV and disclosure letter, only asking me to check it. Using this, he applied to become a prison driver on ROTL (Release on Temporary License) and was successful.”

Despite starting in a more relevant role, Prisoner S wasn’t satisfied and knew that if he was to be better prepared for a new career upon his release, he needed to gain an HGV licence. Elaine advised him to speak to the DWP Prison Coach and ultimately Prisoner S was able to access some funding to start learning towards getting his licence. Prisoner S passed the test with flying colours, and Elaine encouraged him to start searching for relevant full-time roles, whilst continuing to work as a prison driver.

Elaine then received some exciting news: “Prisoner S came to see me to inform me that he has been offered an HGV Class 1 driving role with a logistics company in Avonmouth, with a salary he is really pleased with.”

Prisoner S provided the following feedback on the guidance he had received: “I believe that I am a driven and motivated individual. However, I feel I have been advised brilliantly by Elaine to follow my new venture – she was always there to listen and offer advice as to the way forward. She has always made me feel that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.”

Our CIAG services are available in many other prisons across the country and our teams continue to help individuals with developing a Personal Review Plan to help sustain motivation, identifying key strengths and skills, building CV’s, understanding the job market and much more.

For more information on the service, click here.

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An Interview with Amit Jotangia- Interventions Alliance’s new Forensic Psychologist

Amit Jotangia has recently joined Interventions Alliance in the newly created role of Forensic Psychologist, to look at the interventions that the business provides and offer his significant knowledge and experience to ensure all programmes are underpinned by key psychological principles, with a particular focus on the Compulsive, Obsessive Behaviour Intervention (COBI) programme.

Amit has extensive experience in the assessment and treatment of offenders and has dealt with extreme and difficult situations throughout his career, having worked with perpetrators of violent or sexual crimes as well as those diagnosed with psychological disorders. He spoke at length about his career so far and his aspirations for his new role:

How did you first decide that you wanted to work in Forensic Psychology?

“I chose to do a degree in Psychology at University, and it was in my third year that I chose to pursue Forensic Psychology specifically. I completed training and started off working in the witness service, then moved on to work in the prison service, which is where I first started working with high-risk offenders.”

Where did that initial passion come from?

“I did the degree in Psychology because I was totally fascinated with the mind, and the other sciences didn’t interest me as much at that time. I was partly driven by an interest in a programme called ‘Cracker’ but I later found out that we have very few offender profilers in the UK so my understanding of the role of Forensic Psychologists here evolved over time. When I needed to narrow down my field of interest further, I was drawn to Forensic Psychology because I wanted to better understand the mind of offenders and understand the functions of the extreme behaviours that they are capable of.”

What are the key experiences you’ve had so far in your career?

“I worked in the NHS Forensic Hospitals for a number of years, before transitioning to working with the National Probation Services on the Offender Personality Disorder pathway. That helped me build some important relationships and led to further opportunities, which included opportunities to work with offenders with emerging personality disorders in a prison. Alongside these central roles, I’ve always tried to keep things as interesting as possible by venturing out where I can, such as delivering lectures, offering consultancy to external organisations and attending important events such as conferences.”

What do you think has been the key to succeeding in a stressful and high-pressure profession?

“The overriding responsibility of the job is two-fold: on one hand you are trying to help someone desist from offending and on the other, you are trying to protect the community. It can sometimes be difficult to manage that responsibility constantly, and sometimes it is inevitable that you will take the work home with you. To be a good Forensic Psychologist, I think the key traits are the ability to stay calm in the most difficult of situations, and to be able to think outside of the box and not make a biased or impulsive judgement, which can be easy to do when you are faced with crisis situations.”

How do you manage the potential emotional or mental impact?

“Even though I have probably become de-sensitised to hearing about extreme behaviours over the years, I’m still a human being and occasionally the nature of certain crimes will trigger me emotionally. However, the flip side of this, and I know that my colleagues at IA would agree, is that the nature of my work has also led to positive changes in myself, because I need to practice what I preach. So, for example, Mindfulness is something that I not only teach, but actively practice myself and it has had a huge impact on my life.”

What was it that drew you to working with Interventions Alliance and what do you hope to achieve in your new role?

“I’m always drawn to new and innovative opportunities, and the work that Interventions Alliance is doing is an example of this. The new COBI intervention offers an opportunity to address a niche in a developing field, and this is exactly the kind of thing that motivates me. My role is fairly varied, but ultimately the purpose is to help IA improve the journey for the client, from referral to assessment to formulation to treatment to post-treatment. If we can achieve this, we can reduce risk behaviours and make our communities safer for everyone.”



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Warrington CFO Activity Hub and probation services celebrate achievements of People on Probation

A recent collaboration with Halton and Warrington Probation Delivery Unit (PDU) and Warrington Co-financing Organisation (CFO) Activity Hub has seen the Hub deliver the first ever Interventions Alliance Engaging People on Probation event.

The event, which is a probation service initiative, showcases the achievements of People on Probation and awards them for their commitment on turning their lives around for the better.

The Hub was chosen to host following an event the Warrington PDU attended which saw their staff undertake a range of activities that participants would normally engage with, so they got a feel for the Hub and what if offers to People on Probation.

The PDU lead was keen to work with the Hub on their event and approached the team to discuss the feasibility and appropriateness of holding the event at the Hub.  It was agreed that there was a mutual benefit in us hosting and we were happy to support to enable delivery.

The probation team nominated 11 Persons on Probation (PoP) with many Probation Practitioners in attendance to support the celebration as well as to encourage the PoPs to enrol and benefit from the wide-ranging delivery of supportive activities and interventions that the Hub offers.

Of the 11 individuals nominated, 5 won awards and were already active members of the Hub engaging in the activities on a regular basis which positively shows the Hub was successful in their rehabilitation journey. They all said they had enjoyed their time at the Hub and had developed skills and confidence whilst with us.

During the event, PDU Lead Kerri Bendon gave a speech congratulating all attendees and staff of both services for their hard work and commitment and their input into helping people to change their lives for the better. Everyone received a small motivational gift from the Hub with the winners’ receiving awards.

After the formal EPOP session closed, individuals were able to filter into other activities taking place within the Hub, including an LP artwork session attended by 6 participants. One of the new PoPs took an interest and, and as a former Koestler award winner was impressed with the session and felt comfortable enough to talk to other participants.  A Hub mural session was also taking place where staff and participants old and new were invited to design something they would like to add to the wall mural. We have collected their efforts and will invite people back in when we’re ready to put brush to wall.

Positive local relationships between the Interventions Alliance CFO Activity Hub and the Warrington probation service have clearly benefited People on Probation.

Evan Saxon Taylor, Warrington PDU said “Firstly I would just like to say a BIG thank you to staff at the Warrington CFO Activity Hub for putting on such an interactive and informative afternoon for our team. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and certainly for new members of the team, they have benefited from the introduction to the Hub. I hope this will see an increase in referrals for you but moreover, a step closer to a more collaborative multi-agency relationship between Probation and Activity Hub”.

To find out more about our CFO Activity Hubs please visit:

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