The Prison Advice and Care Trust (Pact) is a national charity that provides support to prisoners, people with convictions, and their families. They support people to make a fresh start and minimise the harm that can be caused by imprisonment to people who have committed offences, to families and to communities.
Pact have been recording all of their cases on ECINS since 2014. It was originally introduced for their Family Engagement Service working across 30 prisons but Pact has since been awarded a 3 year contract and are now working across 36 prisons and are using ECINS in all of these prisons with more to follow through their ‘Through The Gate’ Work. Pact also run a dedicated helpline for prisoner’s friends and families who also use ECINS.
More recently ECINS has been used by Pact for their Routes2Change Programme which is a new partnership between Pact and HMP Brixton which aims to support prisoners and their families while they are in prison and for up to six months after release.
The programme supports prisoners but also enables them to care for and support their families by working with people in and out of prison to keep their relationships strong (or improve them), offering lots of support like relationship courses and specialist play sessions, and planning for release and resettlement. It’s based on Lord Farmer’s idea that families are the ’Golden Thread’.
Peter Snashall Senior Admin and Information Officer for Pact said ‘We record all of our cases on to ECINS, uploading them with various reports and actions.
We start off with a referral report from which we create a contact report with names addresses and details of children. We have seven practitioners with a dedicated administrator. The administrator sets up the case for the profile and then passes it to the practitioner for them to update their day to day actions.
‘We’re constantly recruiting more volunteers – we have six active befriending volunteers in the community with nine more starting in January. We have eight active therapeutic play volunteers and eleven more in process and we have recently recruited three Peer Champions (volunteer prisoners).
‘We have worked with the Empowering-Communities team to tailor the system to our needs and add some new actions to ECINS, this has allowed us to add information from befrienders who work with prisoners both inside and befrienders who work with them on the outside. The dedicated Befriender Support Officer and our Therapeutic Play Workers also add information to the system. This allows us to include outcome reports that show all the positive outcomes that have happened with the family such as employment or accommodation or partners who have not visited prisoners before.
‘The programme has been running since June 2019 and we are now at maximum capacity with 160 cases currently being worked with. It’s an 18 month project looking to run until the end of next year. The programme is made up of prison staff and agencies in the community who we have links with. We link people to various other services so it is a whole service ‘Through The Gate’ programme, helping people inside and outside of prison.
‘Since the service started in June we have had 201 referrals and recorded 1700 actions. ECINS enables me to pull off statistics on a monthly basis which I can send to staff and managers. It ensures everyone is maintaining the standards they set, recording all of their work and actions and keeping on top of their cases.’
The Routes2Change Programme has recently run its first baby group at Brixton for prisoners with dependent children aged 0 – 3 years which was very successful. Dads were allowed to play on the floor with their children instead of having to sit at their designated tables, and they did ‘daddy and baby hand prints’ which are now displayed on several cell walls. They were also able to get a birthday cake and join in with singing happy birthday for the first birthday of one of the babies.
Andy Keen-Downs, Chief Executive of Pact said ‘ECINS have worked with us over a number of years to develop, refine and adapt the ECINS system to our specific needs. People who work for Pact who have used other systems tell me that it is the best system they have ever used, and it particularly suits us because it allows us to take a ‘team around the family’ type approach – from inside and outside prisons – and between and across establishments and organisational silos.
“People who work for Pact who have used other systems tell me that it is the best system they have ever used, and it particularly suits us because it allows us to take a ‘team around the family’ type approach – from inside and outside prisons – and between and across establishments and organisational silos.”
‘I am a big fan of what the system has done for us in strengthening our service offer, and of its capabilities to do more. I’m a fan of things that work – and given that one of the case management systems in the justice sector work for families – and none of the children and families systems I have seen work for the justice sector – and ECINS works for both – then that makes me a fan of ECINS.’
The Routes2Change programme will be opening a brand new Visitors’ Centre in 2020 so they can support even more prisoners and their families.