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Service user involvement aids rehabilitation and reform

Ian sets out the positive experience he got from volunteering with the probation service

I believe that inspirational change, reform and rehabilitation can be achieved. Working together and taking appropriate action to resolve issues and problems can be a major contributory factor in reaching this goal.

Back in 2018 I received a two-year community order. I fully engaged with probation which allowed me to address my offending behaviour, make decisions about my future and develop new skills. I was able to use my own personal experiences of going through the criminal justice system to help others and in turn this made me feel as though I was giving something back to society and the community.

When I was asked by my probation officer whether I’d like to be part of the recruitment process for a new management role I jumped at the chance. I thought to myself:

“Finally, an opportunity to take part in something that helps shape the future of the organisation, get involved in the decision-making process and help create an environment whereby individuals on probation would get the chance to work with dedicated and passionate probation officers.”

I wanted to see a probation officer appointed that had service users at the forefront of everything they did and included them in the decision-making process. Somebody who wanted to create an inclusive and safe environment. Somebody who was passionate about delivery who would take equality and diversity seriously. I knew from the get-go that this opportunity would help me to find the person I’d like to see in post.

Before this I had already been involved in a variety of activities with probation including recording a video to aid research and assisting with sessions to help other service users and the youth offending team.

All of this was fantastic, but the opportunity to become involved in the recruitment process was the start of an amazing journey.

I was able to set and ask some of my own questions and listen to each of the candidate’s presentations. Not only did this give me the chance to learn more about each of them, I learnt a lot from it too.

The opportunity to be part of this, as well as all the other extra activities I have been involved with, has given me the confidence to believe in myself, to boost my self-esteem again and to realise that I do have the potential to achieve whatever it is I want to achieve in the future.

The passion I have come across from the probation officers I have worked with has allowed me to move on, make changes, address challenges and ultimately rehabilitate.

I really like the idea of the probation service including service users in their decision-making processes, taking their input onboard and understanding their point of view. At the end of the day, individuals that have been through the process of engaging with probation are the people that matter and the probation service should consider them a valuable tool.

By Ian (name changed to protect identity) 

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