Young people in prison are the experts, so we listen to their ideas and feedback. Our in-prison advisory boards help to shape our strategy, coaching programmes and our campaigns.
What are the in-prison advisory boards?
We value our participants’ expertise and recognise their lived experience. Funded by The Listening Fund, the in-prison advisory boards are formed of Spark Inside ambassadors (a paid role for people in prison) and representatives of Spark Inside. We keep our participants at the heart of everything we do, and the in-prison advisory boards are a platform for people in prison to voice their opinions and effect change.
What young people have told us so far
The young people we coach told us that they felt it was important to have senior Spark Inside staff present at the in-prison advisory board meetings, especially those who can implement any changes recommended by them. We therefore have ensured a member of the Senior Management Team has been present at every meeting, including the CEO and members of Spark Inside’s Board of Trustees.
We had feedback from prisoners that young black men face specific issues and experience these issues more acutely in the criminal justice system. It was felt that acknowledging some of the specific challenges young black men face could be beneficial. This fed into the development of the tailored version of our life coaching programme: Hero’s Journey™ from a Black Perspective.
The young people identified that having a ‘wing-rep’, who is a young man in prison that has been through our coaching programme and was influential on their wing (democratically chosen), would allow Spark Inside to gather views and feedback from more young people in a meaningful way. Therefore, we recruited these young people as ‘ambassadors’ on their wing, which is a paid position, supported by the Spark Inside team, with relevant worksheets and guidance.
When recruiting for our new CEO, the young people told us that they would like to put forward the following question to ask the candidates in the interview: ‘People face a unique set of challenges when living in prison, often with complex or multiple needs. What do you see as the greatest challenge for people when engaging with Spark Inside and how do you think this can be overcome?’ This question was indeed asked to all candidates and the responses from the short-listed candidates were given back to the young people, to gather their thoughts on candidates’ answers.
When the young people identified where we could make improvements from their perspective to our survey design, we used their feedback to shift our evaluation method to Outcomes Star (Youth Star). Outcomes Star is an evaluation process more aligned to a coaching approach, where the Star is completed as a collaborative process between client and coach, without leading or directing the client, which helps instill trust.