Carrie Peters, Director of Operations for Ingeus’ Justice Services, talks about the work of Ingeus and why it has commissioned Innovating Minds to provide clinical supervision for staff.
Ingeus is a well established company that takes its training responsibilities seriously and invests in its people. The parent company operates across 10 different countries with around 8000 employees in total.
Ingeus UK has 4 divisions: employability; youth; justice and health. Our Youth services deliver the National Citizenship Service and in Health we provide the National Diabetes Prevention Programme and Access to Work Mental Health Support Service. Employability is our longest established division and is all about supporting people to overcome barriers and get back into work. We help people with a wide range of needs including mental health issues, lack of confidence, long-term unemployment, and poor literacy or digital skills. Ingeus provides a holistic approach to supporting people. We provide the skills, knowledge, behaviours so they can sustain and succeed in those roles those roles which is very important for the company and for the individual's self-esteem.
When the probation service reunified, the Community Rehabilitation Company contracts ended. The probation service went back into the public sector but continued to commission specialist services, from private sector and voluntary sector organisations. These ‘Commissioned Rehabilitation Services’ (CRS) now form part of our Justice division.
We were awarded several of these contracts delivering education, training and employment services in the East Midlands, the Northeast and in the South Central area; two regional Accommodation Services contracts helping people leaving prison who had no fixed address; and multiple contracts for Personal Wellbeing Services.
Our CRS employ approximately 180 people who work with our local supply chain, partners and wraparound services. All these staff need support because it can be taxing work. Often, the people they are working with are at a difficult point in their life. Some have mental health issues; some have experienced trauma and others struggle with addiction or domestic violence. They will be dealing with safeguarding issues and may come face to face with self-harm, suicide sexual offending. It takes its toll.
Employees are offered regular training and ongoing continuous professional development, and we also have a free and confidential Employee Assistance Programme that they can access at any time. However, we felt that another level of support was needed. Sometimes people need to talk about issues and their personal experience and do not feel able to share such information with their line manager. They might worry about confidentiality or feel that they are under the microscope and being judged.
We wanted to bring in an independent organisation to offer another level of specialist assistance for our staff, and we wanted to choose a company that understands the issues and the type of work our employees are engaged in. Staff having the right support, and low absence levels, are just two of the ways we can also measure the effectiveness of our provision.
Dr Asha Patel, founder of Innovating Minds and Clinical Psychologist, started her working life in the criminal justice system and has considerable expertise in this area. This means she understands the pressures and the constraints we work under and can make appropriate suggestions. All the Innovating Minds staff are highly trained and they bring different perspectives, such as from the Health Service, while still using approaches that are relevant to our organisation and our ways of working.
They have introduced small group work with facilitated conversations. These are respectful guided conversations that lead to constructive discussions of issues. These give everyone the opportunity to contribute and sometimes common themes emerge which might be discussed with management without individuals' names being mentioned.
At Ingeus nearly 10% of our workforce is made up of people who have the lived experience of the criminal justice system. They bring tremendous strength to their teams as they draw on personal knowledge. We want to make sure that they settle and feel safe and confident in their new role but as an organisation we need to recognise the impact that such work can have on them.
They may be reliving things that they don't necessarily want to relive. We provide peer mentoring for them so they know they are not alone. We provide support from more senior team members but we feel that it is important to have that extra layer of supervision so they can move forward with a level of assurance instead of feeling vulnerable.
At Ingeus we need to make sure that all our employees have the help they need so they can go on to deliver the best possible service to our end users. It's our way of safeguarding our employees and making sure they can thrive.