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Offender management and rehabilitation

Shadowing a Lifestyle Associate Caseworker

A man and a woman smile at the camera. He is sitting at a table working and she is stood next to him holding a document that she has brought to show him.

Student Orla Finnerty shares her experience on shadowing one of Catch22’s Personal Wellbeing Lifestyle Associate Caseworkers.

Catch22 deliver nine Personal Wellbeing Support services for prison leavers on licence, leavers requiring post-sentence supervision, and those serving community or suspended sentences. The Personal Wellbeing services focus on four key areas: Family and Significant Others, Lifestyle and Associates, Emotional Wellbeing and Social Inclusion.

Hi Orla, can you tell us about your role at Catch22?

I am a student on my placement year with Catch22 and I’m based in the Personal Wellbeing service in London. My role involves shadowing caseworkers and supporting the administrative team. Today I am shadowing caseworker Sara Donegan, which will involve a R.O.A.D session, an initial assessment, and a one-to-one intervention.

R.O.A.D session

In the morning, I attended a R.O.A.D session with Sara and Nicole, both Personal Wellbeing Lifestyle Associate Caseworkers. This session was focused on ‘Understanding Past Choices.’

The R.O.A.D (Rehabilitation Offering Another Direction) programme was designed and created by gang practitioners at HMP Thameside, and is now used across all Catch22 custodial gangs services. R.O.A.D encourages participants to evaluate their past choices and address the consequences of their behaviour.

It is facilitated over five days and delivered to 10 to 12 prisoners per programme, who can self-refer, or it can be part of sentence objectives. Any individual can take part in the programme but those with earlier gang affiliation and/or those who have R.O.A.D included in their sentence plan are prioritised.

Participants are encouraged to explore the underlying and surrounding factors associated with their offence, by reflecting on their experiences. They were talkative and comfortable speaking about their offences. Sara and Nicole were good at encouraging them to think about distinct factors that may have led to their offence. The practitioners were sensitive when discussing the topic of family so as not to trigger any of them and to ensure they felt comfortable throughout. By the end of the session, they were able to identify the influences and factors leading to their offence with the group.

I really enjoyed sitting in on this group session. Sara and Nicole were great at getting me involved and they were so welcoming! They also made participants feel at ease, which of course was essential to getting everyone involved.

It was eye-opening to see the ROAD group session in action and see how it affects the individuals on a personal level.

Initial assessment

After lunch, I sat in on an initial assessment with Sara and a ‘Person on Probation’ (PoP), who attended with his probation officer.

Sara introduced herself to him and outlined what the sessions involve, such as groupwork and one-to-one sessions. She then went through the different steps of completing an initial assessment, which included rating how comfortable they are with: groupwork, video conferencing (Zoom), reading, writing, talking, drawing, watching video clips/films and roleplay.

Sara asked the PoP questions on Lifestyle and Associates, and Emotional Wellbeing. In this exercise, they had to rate statements from 1 (strongly disagree) to 10 (strongly agree). Some of the statements included:

  • I can recognise feelings, people, and situations that place me at risk of offending.
  • I can identify people who have a positive influence on me and am able to make and keep friends easily.
  • I am using my time well and I am actively engaging in purposeful activities.
  • I feel able to disassociate myself with negative peers.
Emotional Wellbeing:
  • I feel confident and have hope in myself.
  • I feel I can manage my emotions including those linked to my offending.
  • I know what wellbeing activities I need to undertake to support my daily living.

This initial assessment is to get an idea of who the practitioner is working with and what they need the most support with. It was a good opportunity for them to meet Sara and learn about the work provided by Catch22.

One-to-one session with service user

At 3pm, I shadowed Sara with one of her PoPs who had already completed a first assessment. This was his first session and it focused on emotional wellbeing.

Sara began by asking him how his week had been. He spoke about some troubles he had over the weekend, how it made him feel and how he dealt with it. His response and reaction showed growth; he was mature in how he handled situations and his emotions. He was able to recognise how he would have reacted in the past and said he understands that it is not worth reacting like that. Sara was very supportive of the insight he showed.

Reflecting on my day with a Catch22 Lifestyle Associate Caseworker

The day was a wonderful way of learning the role of a practitioner at Catch22 as I could see how distinct types of sessions are conducted.

I learnt the importance of being organised as a practitioner as there are a lot of different deadlines and a lot of admin work to keep up with. The day was eye-opening for me, and I really enjoyed seeing what a practitioner does on a daily basis.