- Project briefs
- Highlighted Catch22 strengths
- Comments on projects
- Suggestions from proposals, and Catch22’s response
When delivering interventions to those needing support, the interventions cannot be pulled from thin air. They need an up-to-date, comprehensive evidence base. In addition to this, intervention curation and development must be subject to changes in research, and constructive criticism. In the interest of utilising consultants to home in on and evaluate several aspects of our current intervention delivery, Catch22 partnered with students from Kingston University to explore our trauma-informed approach, the resettlement process for prison leavers, and the role of our wellbeing practices.
Consultancy is often heard in relation to corporate jobs. But how can Catch22 benefit from consultancy, and why are students best placed to be our consultants? Students are at the forefront of research, spending their days conducting, writing about, and attending lectures on studies and theorem. They therefore know a great deal on up-to-date research and theories and are in great stead to update ours. When creating an evidence base that feeds into “what works” and is informed by the most recent findings, this is best reviewed by those most knowledgeable about current and existing research- university students. In turn, allowing students to evaluate our intervention delivery provides them with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills obtained throughout their studies to a real working environment.
Kingston University runs Community Engaged Learning to involve students in social action and build their knowledge around third sector organisations. This module is for second year cross-degree undergraduates from psychology, criminology, and forensic science backgrounds. Catch22 therefore provided Kingston University students with evaluation briefs on our intervention delivery, which promoted the development of skills in problem-solving, communication, teamwork and presentation. Students then completed a project which described the project brief and suggested solutions, with scope for resources they may want to create and how they may want to present their evaluation. The students worked in groups of five or six, and worked on the project for six weeks from the end of January 2023 onwards.
Project brief 1
“Explore how a trauma-informed approach can be best embedded within the criminal rehabilitative services that Catch22 can provide. Define how staff, from management to frontline practitioners, can utilise this within their practice and how as an organisation, Catch22 can evidence this trauma-informed approach. Explore why it is especially important to this cohort and what the positive outcomes might be for both the service users and staff.”
- Research paper
- Engagement piece for staff learning/ utilisation
Project brief 2
“What are the key issues that male prison leavers face within the resettlement process, and how can Catch22 rehabilitative services best support prosocial behaviour, community reintegration and lasting desistance. Paying particular attention to three key areas: dependency issues, homelessness and care leavers.”
- Research paper
- Engagement piece to support organisational focus, approach and learning
Project brief 3
How important is the role of wellbeing practices within the rehabilitation of males within the criminal justice system (CJS) in England, and how best can frontline staff support with the compounding issues individuals face throughout their CJS journey. Both from custody to resettlement and community to custody. What are your recommendations to how these findings best be implemented by Catch22’s criminal rehabilitative services. Consider also, how frontline staff are able to embed this into their practice and support their own well-being whilst working on the frontline.
- Research paper
- PowerPoint presentation
Project brief rationales
These projects briefs were developed and stipulated from real areas that Catch22 wanted to address to improve our service design and intervention delivery. Current rehabilitative services are pushing for trauma-informed care (TIC) (Jewkes, Jordan, Wright and Bendelow, 2019), so Catch22 must review their trauma-informed practice to ensure their services align with up-to-date theory.
We see many frequent barriers to resettlement amongst our referrals, which are associated with disengagement from our services and are more likely to result in recidivism. Some of those barriers are homelessness, dependency issues and care leavers. It is crucial for Catch22 to consider and accommodate for variables that reduce the effectiveness of our services, or prevent completion of the interventions, to provide holistic support to our service users which promotes better, more durable rehabilitation.
Finally, a project brief on wellbeing practices felt crucial for both service users and staff. As our longest running Commissioned Rehabilitative Service is personal wellbeing, it is important to evaluate that providing wellbeing interventions is worthwhile and effective. Moreover, working with vulnerable people can sometimes prove draining, and staff retention can consequently be a concern (Forsyth, Shaw & Shepherd, 2022). It therefore feels pertinent to evaluate how our wellbeing practices can be implemented for staff so they feel supported enough in their role.
In total, 17 projects were submitted. Of those:
- five selected the TIC brief,
- seven selected the Resettlement Process brief, and
- five selected the Wellbeing Practice brief.
All 17 project briefs were predominantly received as a presentation. However, some of these included references, voice recordings and video recordings.
Highlighted Catch22 strengths
Many projects firstly gave context to the project brief and its relevance to Catch22. The projects also wanted to touch on successful aspects of Catch22’s intervention delivery. Below are some common strengths that were included in the evaluations, with some elaborated examples extracted from the projects.
Holistic approach, including collaborating with partners
- Work with probation
- Multiple services: wellbeing, education, gangs and violence reduction, etc.
- Collaborate with partners to make the most effective use of various skills, knowledge and resources.
- Work with probation, police officers and other criminal justice agencies.
- Work close with probation to support prison leavers.
- Partnered with NHS and other mental health services.
- Also have Victim Services.
- Referrals and signposting around homelessness, livelihood, family, social connection, justice compliance, employability.
- Support for unemployed and homeless.
- Build rapport for long-term valued relationships.
- Build strong relationships.
- Build close bond with prison leaver so they have more of a support network.
- Offender management unit builds strong relationships.
- Support to build resilience.
- One-to-one sessions that encourage vulnerability.
- Work with service user pre-release.
- Peer mentor programmes run by those with lived experience.
Statistics evidencing our success
- Worked with 25,000 people across 15 prisons in 2021.
- 12,000 victims, 160,000 lives changed, 26,000 men on probation in total.
- Worked with 26,069 individuals in custodial state and impacted them positively.
- 99% of prisoners referred received a pre-release assessment. 95% were satisfied with the support they received. 98% received an initial screening within 5 days.
- Comprehensive assessment of risk and need.
- Specifically tailored to each service user’s needs.
- Assessing risks and needs to create established action plan.
- Assessing risk or behavioural issues.
- Trauma informed practice.
Comments on projects
We are overall very impressed with the quality of the projects. They showed great insight into rehabilitative services, and provided thorough, well-considered evaluations and improvement suggestions. Noteworthy strengths of the project are:
- Use of statistics and evidence to convey importance of researching all briefs.
- Tangible solutions which are well thought-out and backed up.
- Clear, concise explanations of the project at hand, how it relates to Catch22’s intervention delivery, and why it is an important subject to evaluate.
Some general improvements to all the projects could have included:
- Ensuring that, when a theory is included in an evaluation piece, it is directly linked to the project brief at hand. For example, if discussing the Good Lives Model (GLM), do not just explain the model but link it into how it could advocate for trauma-informed care.
- Many projects suggested improvements which Catch22 already implements. Many projects produced a recommendation that matches, or is very similar to, what we already offer.
- Some projects needed more detail. They state what we should improve, but now how.
- Some didn’t suggest any improvements Catch22 could make. This felt key to an evaluation piece and was especially crucial for us to make tangible changes to our intervention delivery.
Now let’s delve into the individual project briefs, exploring their strengths and potential improvements.
Project 1: Trauma Informed Care
Most projects that answered this brief did well to consider positives and negatives of implementing TIC. There is a large evidence base out there for the effectiveness of TIC which most projects tapped into, and some also mentioned the limitations of implementing TIC (cost, additional training required, etc).
On the other hand, a general limitation for the TIC projects were that they failed to go into detail about how TIC should be implemented. Considering the limitations of TIC is less useful if solutions to these vacancies are not then provided. By proposing ways to incorporate/improve TIC, some projects would have been more in-depth and shown greater knowledge of problem solving and consultancy.
Project 2: Resettlement Process
The strengths of projects answering this brief came from the detail. This question had a lot of components, so the best projects addressed all the components with detail. One project that stood out made proposals, reflected on the potential limitations to their own proposals, and then suggested how to overcome those. This level of consideration provides a more robust proposal.
Additionally, some projects that answered this brief used case studies. Real-life examples are an innovative way to portray information and ties in nicely with our “what works” ethics, by using examples of our service users and promoting a user-centered approach.
Whilst most projects were detailed, some failed to touch on all the components of the question. The project brief asked for consideration of dependency issues, homelessness and care leavers. Some projects only chose 1-2 of those areas.
Project 3: Wellbeing Practices
A common strength of the projects that answered this brief included theory that underpins our intervention delivery, such as the GLM and SMART goals. Evidencing the proposals with theory showed a strong, thought-out approach.
On the other hand, a common limitation of projects answering these briefs was surrounding our staff. Most projects did not discuss the wellbeing practices for our staff, and even fewer went into detail on managerial wellbeing and how the managers within Catch22 can implement wellbeing support for the frontline practitioners.
Another gap in the projects that would have been useful to consider was the wellbeing practices for our service users that are no longer in custody. Most projects addressed this brief from the point of view of those within custody, however most of our service user cohort are post-release.
Nonetheless, let’s explore these suggestions and how they can be used to inform and improve our intervention delivery.
Suggestions from proposals, and Catch22’s response
Project 1: Trauma Informed Care
Many TIC project briefs suggested the implementation of TIC staff training, TIC leads or supervisors, and to ensure staff’s values align with TIC in interview. Aside from staff, other projects proposed a “buddy system” in which a current Catch22 service user is paired with a Catch22 mentor who has lived experience.
In terms of training, Catch22 is currently working with Plymouth University to create TIC training packages. We also partner with additional external organisations to provide training to our staff on more specific forms of trauma. For example, grief and bereavement training delivered by CRUSE. This TIC training provided by Plymouth University would also include clinical supervision with their specialists.
In terms of the buddy system, Catch22 is also currently formulating a graduate scheme for previous service users that completed their session with Catch22 to come back and work with us. This would be a great opportunity to address the shared experience aspect of TIC whilst also providing the mentors with an opportunity to give back and be in employment.
The hope is that our staff do have values aligning with TIC. Having said this, Catch22 could possibly incorporate a question around TIC into the interview to ensure the staff they hire understand what TIC is in advance of their employment that can then be ameliorated.
Project 2: Resettlement Process
Due to the many areas that needed to be covered in this brief, there were lots of different suggestions and they were very broad. Breaking them down into each component, the suggestions were as follows:
- specific prosocial behaviour interventions
- peer support groups
- support for service user’s family
- job training
- education sessions
- support in reducing stigma around prison leavers.
- counselling and therapy
- education for young people to prevent rather than cure crime.
- drug testing
- sober mentor
- substance misuse support
- medication treatment
- bursary for prison leavers which they pay back
- housing support
- bursary which they pay back
- education for young people to prevent rather than cure crime.
Catch22 has many interventions which revolve around prosocial behaviour, such as our group session Behave Your Way to Success. Yet, our interventions could benefit from more explanation on what prosocial behaviour is, how that may be portrayed in day-to-day life by themselves and by others.
As mentioned, Catch22 is developing a graduate scheme for service users that have completed their time with Catch22, and this would most likely involve peer support to current service users. Referrals to job and education training are also something Catch22 undertakes. However, we don’t currently offer support to the service user’s family, nor do we have specific stigma reduction work. Limitations of supporting the family is that we have a strict non-disclosure agreement for our service user and therefore cannot disclose anything about the service user to their family. However, we could identify some signposting that is useful for the service user’s social network and distribute that where appropriate. As for the stigma reduction work, this is a good idea! Catch22 could benefit from dedicating some time to creating resources for the public that inform them and aim to reduce negative opinions around offenders.
Although Catch22 is not a counselling and therapy service, and our staff are not equipped to provide therapy, we could investigate building more direct referral routes to therapy organisations. Additionally, our Justice and Education directorate could work together and develop resources for younger people in high crime rate areas to be informed on how to avoid becoming involved in crime.
Catch22’s current dependency support exists in our Dependency and Recovery contract, and additional referral routes to dependency organisations. When developing a graduate scheme, it may be good for those who are graduates from our Dependency and Recovery contract to become “sober mentors. In terms of drug testing, this is a measure to hold the service user accountable when they are trying to be sober, however they may view this as punitive rather than rehabilitative. Additionally, many service users are already drug tested with probation and we do not offer clinical services.
We currently have referral pathways to housing support agencies such as St Mungos, but it is evident that housing issues are one of the main causes of disengagement from our services. Regarding the wage, this is a great idea, and it would be fantastic to offer them some financial support upon release. Having said this, it would be difficult to guarantee that the service user will finish their sessions and pay back what they owe. We would not want to cause more financial concerns for that individual by being indebted to us.
Finally, few projects went into specific detail for how we can support care leavers. Those that did typically delineated support groups and creating a space for care leavers to build relationships and be surrounded by those with shared experiences. This is a great idea and, more generally, the facilitation of support groups and “coffee mornings” for specific cohorts of service users might allow for more prosocial behaviour and community reintegration. However, these projects could have benefitted from proposing more specific support for care leavers.
Project 3: Wellbeing Practices
This brief again produced various proposals, but those were not dissimilar to the proposals of Project 2. Some of the suggestions were specific to the service users: collaborate with family members, create healthcare plans, LGBT+ specific support groups, partnering with religious organisations, wellbeing seminars, informative posters in high crime areas. Some suggestions were specifically for staff: GLM training, frontline staff push for policy changes, enhanced vetting for new starters, staff have a say in workplace changes, fitness centres, and financial support for staff. Then, some suggestions were applicable to both service users and staff: Use SMART goals, regular exercise, and balanced diets.
As discussed previously, there are confidentiality concerns with collaborating with service users’ families. We are also limited in our capacity to provide healthcare, as our staff are not clinically trained. Support groups are a fantastic idea, so having an LGBT+ support group could be great as those within the LGBT+ community are more marginalised in prison (Harris, 2019). Wellbeing seminars are also a good idea, especially if these could be led by our mentors on the graduate scheme! Informative posters have also been mentioned previously, but would feed into wellbeing support and could be another task for our graduates.
The consideration of wellbeing practices for staff was also noteworthy. GLM training would be useful in building staff’s understanding of the theory used to develop our wellbeing interventions and may incorporate this into their daily lives. There are also “linkup” sessions hosted for our frontline practitioners to weigh in on the organisation’s processes and changes, which are then escalated to senior managers. Regarding vetting, some interview questions could be tailored towards how they look after themselves, deal with challenges, cope with difficult situations personally and professionally etc. It could also be good to ensure wellbeing support is clearly explained in a member of staff’s onboarding. In terms of fitness and finance centres, Catch22 has a “Rewards Hub” which provides staff with discounts to many services, including several gym branches. Our Rewards Hub also has a section for discounted access to insurance companies, investment support, and money transfers. However, “drop-in sessions” for staff may be useful and could be managed by staff from our Finance, Benefit and Debt contract.
As for the recommendations applicable to both parties, using SMART goals is currently conducted in some of our interventions around goal setting and time management. SMART goals are also completed for our new starter staff, and this is revisited during their supervision and progression meetings. Regarding regular exercise and a healthy diet, there is a physical health intervention and our partner organisation AIR Network offer gym sessions and healthy eating interventions. For our staff, we also have discounts for gym memberships, recipe subscriptions, personal trainers, and much more on our “Rewards Hub”.
Overall, these projects were well produced. They showed deep understanding of the research surrounding these briefs and suggested innovative improvements we could make. It is reassuring to see that Catch22 is already addressing many of the suggestions that were frequently made: the development of a peer mentor scheme for those who completed sessions with Catch22, and creating more and more training that target more and more areas of our intervention delivery.
Additionally, a frequent proposal would be to increase education and awareness for the general public on
- desisting from crime before offending in the first place and
- educating the wider public on removing their stigma around individuals with a criminal record.
To intervene pre-crime rather than rehabilitate post-crime, it would be beneficial for us to provide resources for younger people that deter them from offending and give them alternatives from the offset. Additionally, to support prison leavers with reintegration, distributing information to combat stigmas could improve their chances of receiving housing, employment, and more general community reintegration through relationship building.
It is clear therefore that Catch22 is a suitable organisation to involve in community engaged learning for students. Additionally, this evidences that students are well-equipped to provide realistic improvements that our organisation could adopt. For Catch22 to strive to achieve these amendments, future steps may include conversations with our marketing teams about stigma-reducing information promotions, and to consider the students revisiting Catch22 to present their findings to our frontline staff so they can deliver interventions with best practice.Continue reading