Wednesday 2 December 2009

Innovation: Let's have more!

Two interesting reports I think worth drawing to my devoted bloggers:

The Innovation Exchange is a great organisation. ACEVO is one of the partners , along with the Innovation Unit and Headshift. Its run by the particularly bright and engaging John Craig, ACEVO member naturally. Its an innovation broker for the third sector. Aims to scale up innovation from the third sector across the public sector.

Recently they had a day to showcase projects they are supporting. The report is
"Next Practice: One year on" and you can get it through their website. Click here to read about the individual projects.

I listened to a number of presentations:

  • Dance United: This is a project run by the academy in Bradford and it is an intense programme of dance 5 days a week over 12 weeks). It's aimed at young people who have come out of prison. They have a stunning record. 80% of those on this course go into education or training or employment. This is exactly the sort of programme should be rolled out nationally and they have plans for three other centres. Its a rigorous programme but achieves. And in comparison with what we know happens to young people who leave the prison system with no support its almost miraculous.

  • And then there is the terrific programme run by the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation ( CEO, Steve Matthews, is an ACEVO member naturally) and The Prince's Trust (CEO Martina Milburn, not yet joined but she said she would, so make sure you do now your on my Blog). It is well known that the first day of release from prison is crucial. Will the person released be met by his old mates and quickly back into the scene and life they know so well? Or could we have what this project is offering which is to meet the released person at the gate and provide mentoring and support.

  • Did you know there are shamefully over 18,000 16-25 year olds in our prisons. A disgraceful increase of more than a third in the last 10years. What a disgrace. Here is a scheme that has already demonstrated huge success. And therefore major savings for the state. So Alistair Darling, how about investing here to cut public spending? Less prison building. More rehabilitation.

  • And what I also find deeply troubling is that the Prison Service do not give their support as they often change release dates and times at the very last minute to suit the staffing rostas and so often ensure the mentor does not link up. What a blot on the service.

  • And is it therefore any wonder I think more involvement by the third sector in running our prisons is desirable, nay crucial. Sorry to return to a hobby horse but it makes many of us angry when we see lives ruined that we could help save.

But back to a more mundane but nevertheless interesting piece of research on our public services.

PWC have published a report on public perceptions of accountability for public services . All parties appear to support greater localism but given the tendency to hold ministers accountable for all aspects of public service performance is it really possible for government to 'let go' in our centralised political culture?

PwC and ippr commissioned a major new body of research to understand the factors that impact on public perceptions of accountability by looking at core public services - health, education, crime, transport and local government. The survey revealed that for issues arising at a national level in crime, just under 50% of respondents held Westminster most responsible, followed by the leaders of service delivery - police chiefs (29%).

The findings suggest that public perceptions of accountability - and hence credit and blame - can change if devolution is well communicated, clearly enacted, and if real powers are transferred to highly accountable bodies. This has important consequences for policies aiming to shift power away from Westminster and back to the local or community level. Click here to download the report on "Who's accountable"


The Keble Duck said...

Dear Stephen,

Thought-provoking blog. I wonder though, if there might be limits to the extent of the Third Sector’s potential influence.

Much as I agree with your point about the role of the Third Sector in rehabilitation and cutting reoffending is running prisons – essentially state retribution on the behalf of victims of crime – really what the Sector wants to be doing? I suppose that the punishment of offenders is a form of social justice. The victims of crime are disproportionately the poor, the disenfranchised and the vulnerable and they deserve justice for the wrongs done to them. I agree entirely that it is scandalous that so many criminals also come from this section of society. Nevertheless, the buck has to stop somewhere. It is easy, being a wishy-washy middle-class liberal (as I am) to shrink from the task of punishing the guilty: mainly because I am not and am not likely to be the victim of crime. If I were this hypothetical victim, though, I would want justice. If the society in which I lived failed in its promise to provide this, my sense of disenfranchisement would only grow. My question is: does the Third Sector organisation exist, that could provide not only help prisoners back into society but gain justice for their victims? Can social justice have a hard edge?

Moreover, is this really what the Third Sector wants to be doing? Is this where its undoubted advantages lie? Compassion, specialisation, first-hand experience, the ‘personal touch’ and a passion for doing good are the Third Sector’s strengths. Is state-sanctioned retribution really where the sector should be focusing its efforts? What might this do to prisons? What, indeed, might this heavy and unpleasant responsibility do to the Sector?
The Third Sector campaign for the capacity to do better what it already does so well – assisting rehabilitation – and not seek to do something that it was never intended for.

Anyhow, hope all’s well. Keep up the good work!

JJ x

The Keble Duck said...

*should* campaign.

Sorry, such a klutz.


Emma Dobie said...

More information about the GateMate campaign for volunteering and mentoring is below!

GateMate is a third sector campaign led by The Prince’s Trust, Clinks, The Mentoring & Befriending Foundation, St Giles Trust and Catch 22. We are striving for the third sector to provide national coverage of mentoring services for young adults leaving prison. At this event we will launch a new online resource showing mentoring provision in UK prisons and in the community.

Clinks’ guiding principles aim to deliver the best possible support, advice, and guidance to prisons, probation and the third sector involving volunteers and mentors in working with offenders and ex-offenders. The guides produced as part of this project are (1) Managing Volunteers (2) Demonstrating Effectiveness (3) Setting up a Project and External Quality Standards.

Event locations
• London - Thursday 21st January 2010, 10.30 – 1.00
The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, 1 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DB
• Manchester - Tuesday 2nd Feb 2010, 10.00 – 12.30
Friends' Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester, M2 5NS

Please book your free place before Friday 18th December at

Supported by Clinks and Innovation Exchange
Gatemate site to be produced by the Bonita Trust Technology Fund