Working with young adults

13 Dec 2022
The ninth blog in the series conducted by independent consultant, Russell Webster, looks at Ingeus' work with young adults. 

A comprehensive approach

Substantial research over the last twenty years has revealed that young adults are unintentionally discriminated against across the criminal justice system with services generally not attuned to their needs as they and their brains mature. There is a consensus across the research that this process of maturation varies considerably and that any effective service needs to be based on individual assessment. Issues of neurodiversity and difficulties transitioning from youth justice services to probation have long been highlighted as problem areas.

I found that Ingeus had invested heavily in its young adult strategy which acknowledged that a step-change from previous practice was required and was explicitly developed to be an organisation-wide approach. The core elements of the strategy were: an evidence-based approach with tailored interventions co-produced with young adults with the whole work force to receive training and young adult specialists appointed in every team. 

Going forwards

The specialist skills that Ingeus established in its work with young adults is amplified by other areas of expertise developed by the organisation including its commitment to valuing lived experience and extensive volunteering and mentoring programmes, its organisation-wide dedication to trauma-informed practice and its specialism in developing arts-based approaches to engaging and enabling young people.

Ingeus was helped in developing this expertise in working with young people and young adults by its collaboration with the Ingeus’ Youth division which runs the National Citizen Service (NCS) for 15-17 year olds. In addition to understanding how to engage and motivate young people and personalise services to make them relevant, the organisation’s work with both young adult offenders and those participating in the NCS programme shares a focus on building self-esteem and confidence and prioritises a strengths-based approach.

An ongoing commitment

The comprehensive skills and experience developed by Ingeus has equipped the organisation to develop a high-quality service to young adults involved in the criminal justice system who receive support around accommodation, employment and health and wellbeing via a wide range of Commissioned Rehabilitative Services and other contracts. The core components of the Young Adult Strategy remain strong with young adult champions and specialist workers organised to fit with the varying profiles of service delivery in different geographical areas. Working with young adults is a fast-developing area of practice and Ingeus remains committed to sharing new and effective practice across the organisation and providing staff with the resources and training they need to work with this client group. They are well linked in with local partners across all the regions where they deliver services, including Violence Reduction Units/Networks and those involved in the inspirational Hope Collective. Staff are constantly asked what support they need in this area and Ingeus has just responded to practitioners’ requests by commissioning a training package on brain development for all young adult leads.

Throughout the organisation there are a wide range of staff passionate to become involved in this area of work and to be the Young Adult champion in their area. Ingeus have also recently been awarded a Young Adult specific contract through which they will deliver interventions as part of Conditional Cautions and Community Resolutions. This attunes well with Ingeus’ ambition to apply their expertise to Early Intervention and Prevention activities.

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