Making Lived Experience count

6 Feb 2024
Everybody who works for the Justice services team at Ingeus has been selected because of their values and belief in people’s ability to change. They all bring with them a range of skills, wealth of experience and a passion for enabling better lives. Together we create, collaborate, and motivate, supporting people to overcome challenges and adversity, reduce the risk factors in their lives, and achieve their full potential. We offer a range of specialist services which we deliver in the community and in custody, including through the gate services for individuals approaching release. 
We know that lived experience of the criminal justice system brings a special quality and weight to our service delivery by offering a deeper understanding and connection, as well as inspiration and hope. For this reason, we have built our unique and highly valued Ingeus Academy. The Academy has been shaped over several years and continues to develop as we learn more about the potential of this approach to justice delivery.
At the core of the Academy is the belief that people who receive services know better than anyone else what works and how services should be delivered to be effective. Our Justice team and partners are invested in this way of working and when they meet someone who needs our services, as well as having a focus on delivering great services to them, they are ready to spot talent and nurture potential to make the transition from service user to service giver. 
The Academy is an eight-week training programme and once completed, graduates become Ingeus Peer Mentors working alongside Ingeus staff on a voluntary basis, developing their skills, building experience, and enhancing the services we deliver to others. Once they have been able to demonstrate their reliability and skills, they are supported to apply for a paid role with the organisation. We have built several roles across the Justice division that provide a stepping stone to people who have been unemployed for a long time, and in these roles we support continued professional development and progression to mainstream roles within the business. Today, we are proud that 53 members of our Justice team have lived experience, representing 17% of our division.
The value of lived experience and the Ingeus Academy cannot be over-estimated. To capture this value, we asked independent researcher, Russell Webster, to evaluate our work. His report, ‘Evaluating the Lived Experience’, demonstrated even more value than we had imagined, including good business sense through recruiting people who are invested and stick with it, bringing resilience, loyalty and much higher levels of retention.
Ingeus has hosted events throughout the country, celebrating the lived experience approach and sharing the stories of our colleagues with partners and wider organisations in each area. These days are the best days, full of pride, hope and inspiration! I am eternally grateful to all those who have the courage to take part in these events to help others.
Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing some of these stories with you. Get involved and do what you can to make experience count!

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