External consultant, Russell Webster, undertook a series of evaluations on a range of interventions which Ingeus delivered as the lead organisation in the Reducing Reoffending Partnership (RRP) which operated Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) in the East and West Midlands between 2015 and 2021. Here he explains the factors, or ‘golden threads’, that were critical to the success of the services we delivered.
A common thread from my interviews with over 50 Ingeus staff during the course of these evaluations was the sense of vocation and a passion for the work that they were doing. Staff were encouraged to focus on the needs of the people they were working with, to treat them as individuals. There were numerous examples of staff going the extra mile to ensure that each individual got the service they needed.
This is demonstrated in Carl’s story from the Through-The-Gate evaluation. Carl received his first prison sentence in September 2019 when he was 20 years old, although the offence had taken place three years earlier. This was Carl’s first experience with the criminal justice system and he was traumatised and frightened. On arrival at the prison following sentencing, Carl was extremely distressed. An Ingeus resettlement caseworker was on her way home when she observed that he was having a nose bleed and immediately arranged to see him away from the other men who had also arrived at the prison.
The caseworker calmed Carl down and explained the process of prison induction and what to expect. Carl was concerned about his parents and especially his mother who had severe mental health problems. As it would be a few days before he would be allowed to call his parents, the caseworker agreed to call them to inform that he was okay.
With permission from the prison and Carl, the caseworker called his parents that evening to let them know that he was alright. The caseworker kept in touch with the parents until Carl was allocated his telephone pin number and was able to make contact directly himself (in this case it was several days before Carl got his telephone pin). They also contacted the prison Chaplaincy service before leaving the prison and arranged for a Chaplain to visit Carl to check on his wellbeing and offer support.
Carl’s story is just one example of the extra mile instinctively provided by the Ingeus team.
I found that rather than sticking only to prescribed reporting patterns, staff were willing to see people with the most pressing or more complex needs more often and, indeed, if needed, beyond the point at which their formal supervision requirement had expired.
It might seem an obvious thing which should be present in any service that works with people. However, my experience is that many organisations now focus more on contract delivery and hitting milestones and targets rather than achieving a positive end result for each individual person.
It’s a simple difference between outputs and outcomes. Helping someone write a good CV, work out whether and how to disclose their criminal record and practise their interview skills are obviously all important interventions. But these are only the mechanisms of success, not a goal in themselves. Ingeus staff were, and are, focused not on ticking off a list of deliverables, but in helping the people they work with to have a better life, to step away from crime and contribute both to their own happiness and the benefits of wider society.