Probation CONNECTS Service Users to Change Lives

Published date:

As part of a new approach to service user engagement PBNI has launched a newsletter developed and written by people on probation.

The service users who are all part of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland’s Service User Involvement groups, have designed the newsletter for other people on probation to provide them with information and support and give a first hand account of how they have changed their lives. 

The launch took place in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings.

Speaking at the event PBNI Chief Executive, Amanda Stewart welcomed the initiative and said; “Probation’s aim is ‘Changing Lives for Safer Communities’ and for me ‘CONNECT’ is a reminder that when we work collectively with service users we can change and improve their lives. People who have lived experience have a lot to contribute to helping us create a system that can reduce the number of victims of crime and make communities safer.” 

Chief Executive Amanda Stewart along with Justice Committee Member, Peter Weir MLA who opened the event.
Chief Executive Amanda Stewart along with Justice Committee Member, Peter Weir MLA who opened the event.

Gillian Montgomery, Director of Operations also spoke at the launch: “Service User Involvement, and getting the first-hand experiences of Service Users is hugely beneficial for service providers and involving Service Users in an organisation’s work brings unique insights.  We get to hear what works, and importantly what doesn’t work in terms of supporting someone on their desistance and rehabilitative journey.  The ‘CONNECT’ Newsletter is one example, and a great example of putting the concept of Service User Involvement into practice”.

Gillian continued: “We believe that the effectiveness of Probation in changing lives for safer communities will be enhanced through the involvement of service users in the planning, developing and evaluating of services delivered.”

Some of the service users who attended the event today said of their experience so far;

“…it helps you, the Service User, on your journey to avoid re-offending,.” 

“Slowly but surely I made steady progress by engaging with all services…”

Gillian paid tribute to all of the service users who have contributed to the newsletter and to others who have been instrumental in CONNECTs production; Professor Joe Duffy from Queens University who provided guidance on service user involvement, and Fred Caulfield and Pamela Brown, from the Prison Arts Foundation for all their assistance with the editing and formatting of the Newsletter.  In addition Jane McCullough and Chris Millar from the Regional Local Engagement Partnership who provided funding support.

Professor Joe Duffy, speaking at the CONNECT Newsletter launch.
Professor Joe Duffy, speaking at the CONNECT Newsletter launch.

Prof Joe Duffy, QUB and Fred Caulfield, PAF both spoke at the event this morning. Joe; “Service user involvement, when approached in the right way, can indeed change lives. The launch of CONNECT today by PBNI shows how this can have a transformative impact on how others understand service users issues.”

You can read the CONNECT Newsletter online.


For more information contact PBNI Communications Unit on 07825 897955 or 028 9052 2522.