Wednesday Webinar: Lived Experience Leadership

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15 December 2020

At our most recent Wednesday Webinar, we were delighted to hear from Paula Harriott from Prison Reform Trust and Marie-Claire O’Brien from the New Leaf Network.

Listen to the recording here

Both Paula and Marie-Claire have built networks of people with lived experience, aiming to amplify their voices, and to build a leadership pipeline from prison to the criminal justice workforce.

They  highlighted the need to move away from user involvement and ‘service user’ mechanisms , and towards a place where people with lived experience are in direct roles as change maker, leaders and innovators.

Paula is a passionate advocate for  people with lived experience of the criminal justice system working in leadership positions, as this has the potential to shift the way we talk about criminal justice and  people in prison. It also alters the types of services and interventions we create.

Paula leads the Prisoner Policy Network (PPN) which  brings together prisoners and former prisoners through consultation, and builds on their experience and expertise to produce reports and develop practical solutions for policy-makers.

PPN recognises the need for purposeful, intentional work which pays close attention to detail to bring people along and to really change who is heard and listened to.

At the core of Paula’s work and motivation is the desire to disrupt the frames of thought which drive political exclusion, which is the common thread connecting so many people working on diverse social and criminal justice issues.

Marie-Claire founded the  New Leaf CIC to support prison leavers into training and employment. Their new initiative,  New Leaf Network (NLN) goes beyond tokenistic engagement of people with lived experience.

After consulting with 51 people with lived experience and asking what would be most useful to them, NLN was formed to fill the gap of business and professional networks for people with lived experience.

New Leaf CIC embeds the idea of mutual support throughout its work – it recently became a co-operative, and the Network will mean that people with lived experience provide mutual support, and help each other to develop personally and professionally.

The New Leaf Network is currently working on a a newly established conference and awards, which celebrate the achievements of lived experience leadership. The awards ceremony will take place on 15th December and all are welcome to attend.

Listen to the recording here

This event was held as part of our Wednesday Webinar series. Our next event is on Wednesday 16th with Sara Lee, Artistic Director of Irene Taylor Trust, about their work making music collaboratively with prisoners and former prisoners.

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