Adam, one of our Lived Experience Forum members, recently presented at the Pathway UK conference about the value of lived experience voice in ensuring the design, commissioning and delivery of services. We are happy to share his speech with you.
I first came into contact with the police when I was nine years old. 21 years and many stays at "Her Majesty's Pleasure" later, I find myself here sharing my experiences with you.
A couple of years ago, I met my partner, who introduced me to the Revolving Doors Agency. Since then I have been fortunate enough to be involved in lots of projects, from group research to forums, to even working alongside the HM Inspectorate of Probation, which my probation officer is quite surprised by.
For me this journey has been a long one, and it isn't over, but if you had told me 5 years ago, when I was sat alone in my cell, that I would be using all those years of mistakes, as "work experience", to be able to help improve the system and help other people, I wouldn't have believed you.
Many people in the criminal justice system, like me, have been let down by the services both in and out of prison. The lack of support contributes to reoffending. Look at Universal Credit, for example, many people are committing crimes, again and again, because they just don't have enough to get by, to feed themselves and their families.
More services need to involve lived experience. Some are afraid to hear what we have to say because they know a lot of it is bad. They don't want to hear how their services are failing people. But, we are not here to criticise, we are here because we want to work with you, to help change the system.
Revolving Doors Forums give people like me, who have been stuck in the revolving door, hope. I've gained more confidence, more opportunities and its shown me that some people do care about what I have to say and that I'm not just some "criminal", but a human being who made a few mistakes, wants to change and wants to bring about change.