Tag Archives: Service Users

Gillian Montgomery, Director of Operations, speaking with a service user about the Service User Involvement Forum

Probation Develops New Approach to Service User Engagement

The Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) has developed a new approach to service user engagement that aims to rehabilitate people and make communities safer.
Director of Operations Gillian Montgomery explains; “Our aim is to change lives for safer communities and we believe people have the capacity to change. In order for that to happen those who have offended must take responsibility for their actions. They must also play an active part in the rehabilitation process. International and local research shows that when service users feel they are involved in how services are designed and delivered, they are more likely to be successfully rehabilitated and stop committing crimes.

“We have therefore set up a number of service user groups that operate across Northern Ireland. These groups enable service users to meet with probation staff and give feedback about what has worked and importantly what hasn’t worked in assisting them to move away from crime. We want to use the knowledge and experience of those who have been through the criminal justice system to help ensure our services are the best they can be.

“As well as setting up service user groups for those who are subject to community orders or post custody licences, we have also set up a group for those victims and survivors who are registered with our Victim Information Scheme. We want to understand the experience of all those who use probation services and use this feedback to improve our service.

“We also believe there is a role for service users in educating others about the risk of becoming involved or further involved in criminality. Our service users have set up a newsletter with information and resources on addiction and mental health that can help other people. The newsletter called ‘Connect’ also enables people to share stories about how they have changed their lives in the hope it will inspire others.”

One service user on the group said: “I am glad to be able to help other service users to deal with their problems and I feel that I can use my previous experiences to alleviate some of their fears and anxieties about being on probation”.

Gillian Montgomery concluded: “As a justice organisation we know that we will only be successful when we work in partnership and that includes involving service users and using their lived experience to improve our services and make communities safer.”

  1. Probation has a short video of Gillian Montgomery, Director of Operations, explaining Service User involvement on its YouTube channel
  2. Information on all Probation’s services is regularly put onto its social media channels on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
  3. Find out more about Probation on its website at www.pbni.org.uk

For more information contact PBNI Communications Unit on 028 9052 2522

Photo of A Probation Officer interviewing someone under supervision during Covid 19

Service users appreciate Probation’s work during COVID-19

Probation staff have been working hard during Covid-19 to deliver essential services to service users. Over the past few months staff have had to work differently, this work has had a real impact on the lives of those being supervised.

Service users expressed how Probation staff made a difference, helped keep them connected to services and on the right path. The response from service users is reflected in the quotes below.

One service user  talked about how they could approach their Probation Officer and access services, “My Probation Officer is very approachable and I have found it easy to access support if and when required. I was able to link in with weekly Relate Counselling Services.”

My Probation Officer is very approachable and i have found it easy to access support if and when required. I was able to link in with weekly Relate Counselling Services -Service user quote

Through the work of Probation, one Service User was able to have the confidence to know what to do when they were feeling low saying, “It was good that safety plans were put in place when I felt low. I know what to do if I am in crisis out of hours or during work time”

Service user quote

Another Service User has found the contact, especially during lockdown, with probation to help with their mental health issues, and having a Probation Officer that helped to them track their progress. They said “The contact has been good. For someone struggling with mental health or other issues they are reassuring and helpful. It has also been good to be reminded how well you have been doing, particularly in the difficult times through lockdown.”

Service user quote

Sometimes it can be just the simplest of things like keeping in contact with someone that can make all the difference. One service user said, “The regular contact and help kept me on the right path.”

Service user quote

Sometimes the transition from prison to community can be very difficult to adapt to. One Service User appreciated the joined up approach with Probation to help them cope with their new situation. One Service User said, “I had just come out of prison and appreciated all the phone calls and appointments. I would not have been able to cope without the telephone support from my Probation Officer and Probation Services Officer.”

Service user quote

Something that continues to be highlighted is the support Probation Officers provide when they can be at their most vulnerable. Our final quote comes from a Service User who said, “The regular contact was a good point of contact when feeling isolated – someone who understands me. Good knowing there is someone I can trust and tell how I am feeling. Someone who took action when I was at my lowest stage in my life and got me the help I needed.”

Service user quote