Helen Berresford reflects on the importance of maintaining a presence at the Insights festivals year on year.
As seasoned participants in the HMPPS Insights Festival, we at Nacro continue to really value the unique opportunities the festival brings. As a charity committed to rehabilitation and delivering support services across England and Wales, it’s such a great chance to connect with others across the criminal justice system, to learn from others, and to share our own insights.
This year, we offered a wide range of opportunities and experiences across Nacro, from shadowing our frontline teams in CAS-2 services; to seeing firsthand how our prison Departure Lounge at HMP Doncaster provides practical support to people immediately on release; through to delving into the complexities of criminal record disclosure rules with our Criminal Record Support Service. We also hosted online sessions - sharing a preview of our soon-to-be published research into the barriers to identifying ex-service personnel in the justice system, as well as discussing how lived experience drives our policy and campaigning work.
While the Insights Festival is obviously a good chance for us to raise awareness of the work we do as a charity, the real benefit for us is in the connections we make with others and the learning we get ourselves. Hearing the perspectives of colleagues across the justice system, their experiences and expertise is incredibly valuable for our own work. Finding out about new areas of practice; new thinking and new ideas inevitably stimulates more ideas and opens up potential opportunities for collaboration. I know this is also the case for many of my Nacro colleagues who enthusiastically sign up to the many opportunities on offer every year.
In fact we like the Insights festival so much at Nacro we are planning to use the concept ourselves to run a Nacro-wide Insights festival! Our aim is to promote learning and deeper connection across our justice, housing, education, substance misuse and policy and campaigning teams.
Of course the festival couldn’t happen without all the other hosts so a big thank you from us for the commitment and work we know hosts and presenters put into delivering their different events. The sheer breadth of opportunities is a real testament to the fantastic work going on across the different parts of the justice system and the commitment of the people working in it. And finally, a big thank you as always to the Insights Team for all the work I know goes into the organisation of the festival. It’s a huge job but one which is well worth the effort.