The Minister for prisons and probation, Sam Gyimah MP, visited Southampton probation premises yesterday to meet with staff and offenders.
Mr Gyimah learned about the innovative ways in which the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Rehabilitation Company (HIOW CRC) is working to reduce re-offending.
Kim Thornden-Edwards, HIOW CRC’s chief executive, hosted the visit, which included talks about the Interchange model, which is the company’s approach to working with people on probation, and about the work being carried out at women’s centres.
Mr Gyimah also learned about how peer groups of people who have been on probation are involved in helping to further improve the service, before then visiting HMP Winchester.
Speaking after the visit to the CRC, Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said: “Probation officers do a vital job in helping offenders turn their lives around and reduce reoffending.
“It was great to meet the team at Hampshire and Isle of Wight CRC, and the offenders they support, to see how the work they do helps them lead crime free lives.”
Kim Thornden-Edwards, chief of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight CRC, said: “I am delighted that the Minister took time out of his busy schedule to meet with our staff and people on probation in order to learn more about the service we deliver
“The visit also gave the minister the opportunity to see how we work intimately with HMP YOI Winchester to provide a genuinely Through the Gate service, and to see how we work in partnership with a range of agencies in order to reduce re-offending.
“We are committed to supporting people on probation to ensure their rehabilitation and are proud to get the chance to showcase our approach with the minister.”
The minister spoke with front-line staff about working practices and met with service user council members who referenced their own experience of probation.
Aaron McCabe, formerly a service user and health trainer and now a case manager, met the minister during the visit.
Aaron said: “It was really good to meet the minister. He was friendly and engaging and asked lots of open questions of staff and service users.
“I think he saw how valuable service user input into probation services is, and how peer groups like the Service User Council help to overcome old ‘them and us’ mentalities.
“The minister heard more about the new strength-based approaches we use and why planning should be two-way between the service user and case manager.
“Discussions touched on important issues like accommodation, mental health support and community services. Also we spoke about the relationship between the case manager and how an offender needs to have belief and confidence in order to make positive changes.”