By Ben Humphris, Head of Service User Involvement and Business Development.

The Ingeus justice team helps people who need support to get back on track after making mistakes in their lives. Working with the justice system, probation units, local councils, charities and communities, my role is to bring the right services to those who have this ‘lived-experience’ so they can transform their lives and become a valuable member of a thriving community – thereby driving the reoffending rate down.
 
People with custodial or probation experience can be helped to build their skills and prepare for a life in employment. We recognise too that people with this experience are perfectly placed to communicate the benefits of living a crime-free life and, after the appropriate vetting and training, we provide opportunities for people to take on volunteering, mentoring, and employed roles to benefit others via the Ingeus Academy.
 
This is a tried-tested-trusted process for Ingeus, and we too benefit from it. To date, of approximately 140 recent new recruits to Ingeus, around 10% have lived experience of the criminal justice system.
 
Why is mentoring important?         
Volunteering roles on our programmes, and mentoring other service users, is a key part of our work with people with custodial and probationary experience. Harnessing a mentor’s experience of how to disengage with a life involved with crime is invaluable. It opens doors and stimulates conversations that other service users will find familiar.
 
Managed and supervised by qualified staff, mentors who are successfully completing their orders and are committed to their own rehabilitation, explain the benefits and support that are available to help others tackle the issues that have led to their offending behaviour.
 
Moving on
We assess what role would work best for any one person drawing on a proven, robust set of opportunities designed to foster engagement and a sense of achievement, adapting the role if appropriate.
 
Peer mentoring is Ingeus’s in-house mentoring service. Ever stringent with our checks and assessments, our eight session peer mentor training programme is proven to be a safe and effective approach to recruiting, training and deploying peer mentors.
 
Our Transition and Hope programme is a group activity developed and delivered by our peer mentors to foster better engagement and bust myths surrounding probation. Peer mentors also deliver health and wellbeing sessions designed to promote better physical and mental wellbeing among service users. 
 
Our mentors are encouraged to add their insights to co-design programmes; as achieved recently in developing a domestic abuse programme to address abusive behaviour amongst intimate partners.
 
Magistrates also report that they are given “an insight that cannot be found elsewhere” when mentors contribute to information sessions.
 
Our end goal
Our aim is to eliminate reoffending by offering our service user community the building blocks for a dignified and successful life.
 
Like many other employers, Ingeus recognises the value that people with lived experience of the criminal justice system can bring. We regularly recruit people with previous convictions and have developed specific routeways into our business including: health trainers, who support our service users to live healthier lives and access mainstream health services; personal wellbeing mentors, who provide advice to service users and support them as they complete their rehabilitation action plan; peer mentors who volunteer their time in support of our staff as they deliver activities and interventions that support our service users away from crime.
 
Life experience is valuable to us. If you have the commitment and enthusiasm to put your past to good use, please visit our recruitment pages