Interserve receives prestigious certificate

Interserve has earned certification from the International Corrections and Prison Association in recognition for developing personalisation, a theory aimed at helping people on probation to make positive changes.

The award is for the work the company’s Community Rehabilitation Companies have done with the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) at Manchester Metropolitan University to develop and evaluate five personalisation pilots.

The pilots were used to test five different approaches to personalisation. Personalisation involves centering probation practice on what an individual can do, with support, to change their life to move away from criminal activity.

Kim Thornden-Edwards, Interserve’s director of rehabilitation and professional practice, received the certificate on behalf of the evaluation team, which was led by PERU’s professor Chris Fox, and independent expert Caroline Marsh. The team included 12 probation managers; Natalie Watson an Interserve sponsored Phd student at PERU; and Jordon Harrison, Interserve’s field work and analysis intern, who carried out the research and evaluation.

Kim said: “I am delighted to receive the award on behalf of my colleagues who undertook the research.

“Personalisation has a long history in social care and has proven to deliver excellent results. We believe that similar approaches can be applied to probation, and that personalisation can be hugely successful in supporting offenders to rehabilitate.

“However, it is vital that approaches are piloted and properly evaluated so that we know what drives positive change. Rigorous research and evaluation is at the core of our approach, and I am thrilled that our expertise has been recognised by the ICPA.”

Rather than research and evaluation being carried out by PERU, academics trained probation managers how to carry out the evaluation themselves.

Caroline said: “The deep knowledge and understanding of probation practice provided by the probation managers greatly improved the quality of the applied research, and strengthened the connection between theory and practice significantly.

“We were able to properly understand how the personalisation pilots impacted on service users and also upon the staff delivering the pilots.

“Ultimately what we want to do is bring desistance theory to life in order to help service users to make positive change.”

The personalisation pilots took a number of models through a proof of concept process with small numbers of people on probation. The models tested were:

· Person centred practice as the only different intervention during probation supervision

· Person centred practice with access to a small amount of funding – called an enabling fund – to purchase items or services that could make a difference to rehabilitation that could not be found through existing resources

· Person centred practice with women on probation who also attend a women’s support service, with access to an enabling fund

· Identifying services and organisations in a local community, not just those already known to probation, which would work with people on probation, providing support and potentially volunteering opportunities.

· Providing a small amount of funding and mentoring support to enabling people on probation to develop and implement an entrepreneurial idea of their own.

The next stage is to develop an integrated model of personalisation with larger numbers of people.