Our lived experience forums are a place where honesty, inspiration and co-production meet to fuel the work that Revolving Doors does. The forums are for people who have had repeat contact with the criminal justice system for low-level, non-violent offences. This group face multiple disadvantages such as mental-ill health, problematic substance misuse, domestic abuse, homelessness and severe deprivation.
The forums are a creative environment where people with lived experience can influence decision makers and allow them to collaborate as partners. We want those with lived experience to speak truth to power and for decision makers to understand the reality of how the criminal justice system affects people’s lives.
Revolving Doors’ work is rooted in our forums and we have seen huge strategic impact from this. Our short sighted campaign, tackling the use of short prison sentences, came directly from our forum: members identified the issue, influenced solutions and shaped the way we communicated the campaign.
Our forums have collaborated with HM Inspectorate of Probation, helping to them to involve lived experience in their inspections. We have influenced Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s health strategies and the development of Community Sentence Treatment Requirements (CSTRs) in the West Midlands.
We have just completed a piece of work with the Ministry of Justice exploring how the criminal justice system can support people around relationships.
In the months ahead the forums are focusing on their vision for the future of probation services, how they can and should change to improve outcomes.
We spoke to our members about what the forums meant to them and they told us that "the forums are good fact-finding places and they help people to express their opinions. You can also make links in these places; you never know who you'll meet.”
Another member said “I enjoy the forums because l can vent my old frustrations at the prison system which l couldn't as a prisoner for fear of repercussions. Plus, it gives hope of change.”
If you want to get involved yourself as a guest or a member, or you want to refer people you work with to attend the forums in Manchester, Birmingham, London, or online then simply message Dan on email@example.com.
The National Experts Citizens Group (NECG) has built on the success of the Revolving Doors forums. The NECG is a representative group whose members have lived experience of using Fulfilling Lives services. The Fulfilling Lives programme, funded by the National Lottery, supports people who are experiencing multiple disadvantage in 12 areas across England.
The NECG brings people from these 12 areas together in order to share their insight and collaborate with decision makers with the aim of improving systems and services.
It was in this spirit that the NECG came together, alongside speakers from the National Fulfilling Lives Project and Public Health England, at the Peoples Museum in Manchester last month.
The meeting explored several issues including the new Fulfilling Lives campaign which focuses on support through transitions such as release from prison and the transition from homelessness into supported housing.
The group also discussed whether opioid substitution programmes could reduce drug deaths nationally. There was a lively discussion around these topics and the NECG set their ambition to help shape future policies.
NECG member Alex attended this meeting and told us that “it was a great opportunity to share ideas from around the different regions. I felt I was part of something national and bigger than me”.
Another NECG member, Charlotte, told us why she felt the NECG was a powerful force for change: “the meetings are dynamic, everyone's really excited to see each other, there's familiarity and genuine warmth between members, ideas and conversations flying around, and palpable passion in the room. Everyone comes armed to effect change.”
The NECG members have recently set out their policy priorities, in an effort to become more targeted and advocate for change that will make a real difference to services, systems and the lives of people trapped in the revolving door of crime and crisis.
If you want to know more about the NECG, or you want to engage with the forum then contact Sean on firstname.lastname@example.org.
While Covid-19 has altered some of our plans, we are looking forward to moving the NECG meetings onto a digital platform and will be publishing the first NECG Strategy report next month.
We’re also excited about the future of our Revolving Doors forums. We recently received funding for our forums from the National Lottery Community Fund. We will be using this to develop a new forum model which focuses on involving an even wider network of people going through the revolving door, creating more opportunities for members and ensuring personal development for all forum members. We will explore new ways that incorporate interactive service design techniques and continue to collaborate with decision makes to create large scale impact. Watch this space!
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.
In this film we made together Lived Experience Forum members reflect on our impact and tell us why lived experience should be at the heart of policy and practice.