A year on from when the Government renationalised its offender management and all associated rehabilitation work, returning it to the Probation Service, we’re celebrating our first year of service.
Interventions Alliance was launched by the Seetec Group, after we had quickly identified the gaps in support that the unification of the service would bring, after we had successfully managed Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) across the South East and South West.
One year on and we’re celebrating having supported over 11,000 people with convictions on their journeys to a brighter future. At Interventions Alliance, we provide a variety of innovative and evidence-led interventions, including specialist education training and employment support helping people with convictions move towards employment, and specialist domestic abuse and stalking units to support both perpetrators and victims.
As an employee-owned business, we employ over 230 experts and also have a cohort of volunteers offering a unique and specialised services to people leaving prison and supporting them on their rehabilitation journey.
Cheryl Milner, Volunteer Unit Manager at Interventions Alliance, explains: “Our volunteers allow us to offer a very personable service to people that often feel no one cares. Our volunteers represent people from all walks of life, they may be retired, a student or someone with lived experience that has been through the criminal justice system and wants to give something back.
“We offer in-depth training for all our volunteers to enable them to support individuals with often complex needs. Our volunteers help people with a variety of day-to-day tasks such as applying for a bank account, looking for jobs and finding housing support, most importantly they offer their time to listen.”
Three volunteers share their experience of helping people re-build their lives: Peter Lewis, Lauren Brown and Ronald Donovan.
Peter Lewis, 63, who lives in Somerset, has helped over 50 service users get back on track.
After a successful career as a company director, Peter served a short spell in prison. Through this experience, Peter realised the lack of support available to ex-offenders on their release from prison, particularly from employers often not giving people with convictions a second chance.
Peter said: “There are a number of reasons why employers aren’t taking advantage of the large cohort of workers that are leaving prison and want to work. From my experience a lot of this is lack of knowledge and accessibility. Employers are just unaware of the potential of, nor how to access, this pool of committed and hardworking individuals.
“Another barrier includes concerns over the risk of employing someone with a conviction. It’s natural to have these concerns, but it is unfounded. Statistically, the evidence is clear that someone with a criminal past is less likely to re-offend if they are in employment. They just need to be given a second chance to prove their worth.”
Peter has found the volunteering process rewarding, although difficult at times, adding: “Breaking through the red tape and other barriers can be extremely challenging and frustrating at times but there’s nothing quite like seeing the reaction from somebody when they have success with something they never thought they could achieve.”
Another volunteer, Ronnie Donovan, 59, from Ellesmere Port, wanted to find a way to help ex-addicts and ex-offenders.
Ronnie, who is at the start of his volunteering journey said: “Volunteering is fantastic. You can choose who you think would benefit from your volunteering work the most, so for me that’s helping people with addiction. Quite a lot of the people I work with aren’t in a great place, so it’s nice that I can share my own experience and help them navigate the system to get the help they need. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference to someone’s life.”
Ronnie was a successful landscaper, even becoming a millionaire, but Ronnie says he’s the happiest he has ever been while volunteering.
Criminology student, Lauren Brown, 21, from Liverpool, has a different motivation for volunteering with Interventions Alliance, after previously taking a more theoretical approach as part of her university studies.
Lauren explained: “I wanted to experience working with vulnerable adults because all my knowledge is theoretical and based on my studies. Because I studied criminology, I am interested in ensuring we look for solutions to break the cycle of re-offending. Most people that are involved in the criminal justice system don’t have many support networks around them and that tends to be why they become stuck in the cycle of offending.
“I don’t believe prison is the right place for everyone, I think many people would benefit from other rehabilitation approaches. For some people going to prison doesn’t actually change anything when they are released, as they go back to their old ways. I wanted to get involved with the work of Interventions Alliance as they are offering innovative, and evidence led solutions to break the cycle.
“It’s so important that we treat people with respect and as an individual rather than just someone who has committed an offence. It’s a really rewarding experience and very insightful as to why people have committed certain types of crimes and you’ll see things from a different point of view. Also, if you’re then helping someone to stop reoffending, then you’re also helping to prevent people from becoming victims.”