Briefing for all Pact Group Staff. Restricted circulation: Pact employees only. Do not forward copy or share with non-Pact personnel.

Good Morning Pact People,

I thought I’d drop you all a note with a few pieces of news and comment. This briefing note includes information which is commercial in confidence, and so please do not share with anyone other than people who are Pact staff. As ever, I have tried to keep it as short as possible, but there is a lot of news, and so make some time to grab a cuppa, and read on…

As ever, I am struck by how much amazing work is being done by Pact people, across England and Wales, in spite of so many challenges and obstacles. I want to thank you all for your hard work and dedication. I am so impressed and in awe of your resilience, determination, and skill. As a Governor said to me recently, ‘Pact is a very ‘human’ organisation, and we need that more than ever in these difficult times’. A major funder also told me that he saw us as the ‘standard bearer for the values of the voluntary sector in the criminal justice field.’ So, if you haven’t been thanked today, or told how important and valued your work is, I’ll just take this opportunity to say thank you. What you do is so important. And never forget that it’s often the little things that you do, that show you are authentic and that you believe in people, that make the big difference.

Election

So, no one saw that one coming! As a result of the snap election, I understand that the Prison & Courts Bill has been cancelled for this Parliament. There were some important positive proposals in the Bill, and I was particularly pleased that there has been so much discussion in Parliament about rehabilitation, and the needs of prisoners’ families, and the benefits of engaging with families to keep prisoners safe, and to achieve good outcomes for rehabilitation and reform. We had been asked to provide briefings to a number of Peers and MPs and we were mentioned in one of the debates. It is of course frustrating therefore for this momentum to be lost, but it feels like Pact’s influence is growing, and that thanks to us, families have a bigger voice than at any time I can remember.

The launch of the Farmer Review has also been postponed unfortunately. There simply hasn’t been time in the Ministerial/Parliamentary calendar for it. We’re not alone – election ‘purdah means that a great deal of policy business is simply put on hold in advance of an election. However, you can rest assured that Lord Farmer will be pressing the case for his review to see the light of day as soon as possible after the election dust has settled, as will I and other members of his Taskforce chaired by our friends at CLINKS.

As far as we are aware, the Probation Services Review has also been postponed. The Government is conducting a review of how Transforming Rehabilitation has gone so far, and has been in dialogue with the National Probation Service, and with the Community Rehabilitation Companies about performance, budgets, targets, and other matters. Its no secret that despite the best efforts of many talented and hardworking people in the public, private and voluntary sectors, working in the frontline, there are some serious issues in some areas. The MoJ has been meeting with the companies, many of whom are calling for changes, and also there has been some limited consultation with voluntary sector organisations. I provided some straightforward feedback as part of a roundtable event that was held recently, which was attended by all the leading VCS organisations working in TR, and organised by CLINKS. I argued for a greater role for the VCS, and for a more practical approach to how targets are set, how referrals are managed, and how performance is measured. The VCS agencies present were unanimous in making the case for person-shaped services, rather than process-heavy, target-driven contracts.

Pact is one of a number of leading voices in the sector, and we will continue to work closely with friends and allies to advise and support the incoming Government following the election, the Ministerial team, and their officials, whoever they may be. Together with the Prison Reform Trust and others, we will be asking for a new Prison Reform Bill, the Farmer Review, and the Probation Services Review, to be given urgent attention.

Of course, one of the things that happens at election time is that you can see a change of Ministers, and so regardless of who wins, we may possibly see a new Secretary of State and Prisons Minister. We shall see. If we do, I’ll be doing what I have done for every new Secretary of State and Prisons Minster for the past ten years – offering ourselves as a non-party political expert charity which can provide sound advice and guidance on what works, and providing opportunities for Ministers to hear directly from people with lived experience of being caught up in the justice system. If on the other hand there is no change, then we will simply remind them of their commitment to prison reform and to prisoners’ families, and take it from there. So, the struggle continues…

Family Services Tender (Commercial in Confidence)

We heard late last week that we have secured a place on the Framework for the Family and Significant Others Tender which is what will be replacing our current Visitors Centre and Family Engagement Worker contracts from 2nd October.

We are through on all the Lots/Clusters we bid for, which means we that not only can we bid for all of our existing services but also look to increase the number of prisons and breadth of the services that we run.

We are on the Framework for the Women’s estate, Wales, Midlands and London and Thames Valley where we intend to bid for all of the prisons. In the South West and South East we will be bidding for selective prisons based on our existing delivery of services. We also intend to go in as a subcontractor to NEPACS for work in the South Yorkshire prisons. We are currently in what is called the ‘standstill period’ which is where organisations can challenge any decisions. This runs until 2nd May. During this period we need to make sure we keep this information in confidence internally please.

So, what are the next steps?

Mini Competitions 3rd May to 2nd June 2017

There are a series of what HMPPS call ‘mini competitions’ which have been scheduled to start on 3rd with, we think, tender submissions for 2nd June. We are going to be submitting 21 individual bids as well as contributing to a further one as a subcontractor. Therefore we are going to be working pretty flat out.

SLT and our Heads of team are all going to be involved in supporting the Business Development team so if we are a little pre-occupied or don’t respond as quickly as you would like it is for a very good reason. Also if you get requests for information at short notice please do prioritise these as we want to make sure we get some strong local case studies and examples into our bids.

There will also be other organisations tendering for these services. Can I ask you all to be vigilant with who you share information about what we do and how we do this; also that you do not allow competitors to shadow your work? Please do however keep working with partners where this is needed to support our service users.

Award July 2017

They are looking at a fairly quick turn around on scoring these and we should therefore hear where we have been successful early July. We are very hopeful that we will win our existing services and new ones, but this is a competition and we don’t know who we are competing against and we can’t guarantee the outcome. Once we have the results we will be sharing with staff teams as quickly as possible to ensure you are clear about the next steps.

Transition July to September 2017

July to September there will then be a huge piece of work planning what changes there may be to the services, such as what areas we have won, the service requirements, and, if there are any services that we didn’t win, and will be moving to new providers, how these arrangements will be made.

We realise that this is going to be a potentially difficult time for some of you. Our HR and management team will be working with all of our affected staff to talk you through what this means for you. If we lose any of our existing contracts (which we will of course do our very best to avoid), we will be liaising with new employers to offer as much support as possible to our existing staff that would be transferring to them (under TUPE), and similarly we will be liaising with the existing employers of any incoming staff.

New Contracts

We’re expecting our new contracts to start on 2nd October 2017, so this is likely to the date that the above changes for staff would take effect.

Support

We understand that this is a period of uncertainty for many of you so I want to remind you of the support available if you want to talk through any of the above:

Your line manager or Head of Service Delivery and Development will be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

 HR can provide you with advice and support.

 Don’t forget that all staff have access to our 24 hour Care First Line on 0800 174 319

We are in a good position with the tendering and have done a huge amount of background preparation to make sure we are able to respond to the next stage of the competition. Most importantly though we have a strong reputation within HMPPS and across the Prison Service and that is because of the amazing work that you are doing, every day.

Forest Bank

I am sorry to say that we have some more bad news for Pact in the north of England. The Director of HMP Forest Bank, who is employed by Sodexo Justice Services, has informed me that they do not plan to renew our contract when it expires in the Autumn, and that they plan to run the family services themselves.

My heart goes out to the hardworking and dedicated staff who through no fault of their own are affected by these decisions. There are political and commercial forces at work which are not of our making and do not reflect the quality of the service being delivered. We will do all that we can to support our staff through this transition. I know that staff will do everything within their power to continue to provide the best possible services and will continue to conduct themselves professionally despite the uncertainty they may personally face.

This news comes to us about nine months after the company committed itself to working in partnership with Pact, and is therefore deeply disappointing and comes as a shock. We have I believe delivered excellent services for prisoners and their families at Forest Bank, and the Director has been clear that this is a commercial decision rather than one that in any way implies any criticism of our work. This news comes hot on the heels of the decision I previously communicated, by the same company to significantly reduce the value of our contracts for Family Resettlement services in Cumbria & Lancashire and South Yorkshire. This has very sadly triggered a redundancy situation, with the loss of some highly valued, committed individuals who were making a significant difference in the lives of service users. I wish those people affected the very best and hope our paths may cross again in the future.

The Pact Board of Trustees are very concerned by these changes and the impact for our people and our services users and we will be responding formally to Sodexo regarding their surprising decision to terminate the Forest Bank contract less than a year after publicly announcing an exciting new partnership, as well as the contract reductions I mention above.

At the end of the line

An independent evaluation of our Helpline has been conducted, and the report is called ‘At the End of the Line’. This report is being publicised shortly, and can be accessed on Pixie. Whilst there is a nationally commissioned Offenders Families Helpline, run by Family Lives, the report demonstrates that our service is much needed, and is effective and valued. We are dealing with many very serious and difficult cases, and I am convinced that the service is saving lives, thanks to the expertise we have about working inside prisons, and the positive relationships we have across the prison estate with HMPPS colleagues, Chaplaincy, and other VCS agencies. My congratulations to the Helpline team for this excellent report, which I hope you will all take the opportunity to read, and to promote to HMPPS, CRC and other agencies with whom we work.

Could I also please ask all of our services staff to ensure you are displaying our new Helpline posters. Please do make sure that they are displayed in areas where prisoners’ families and prisons might see them. If you haven’t received them, please contact Dali or Louise in central office.

New Children & Families Webpages

Have you checked out the new section on the new Pact website? We delayed the launch of this section, and the new animation from the Comic Relief funded ‘Hear our Voice’ project, in deference to the police following the atrocity in Westminster, but we are now publicising it. Please do visit these pages, and share with any parents and younger service users. The site is being developed, and we have some exciting plans to develop more animations over the coming months.

New Staff in Supporter Relations

We are really pleased to finally report we have recruited the replacement for the Supporter Relations Manager. Naomi Farrell started on Tuesday this week and will be making contact with people to pick up all our fundraising from parishes, individuals and communities. She will be making contact with people to get plans on the way for Prisoners’ Sunday, and recruiting Parish volunteers to support our work locally.

We are sad to say farewell to Cora Fern our current Supporter Relations Administrator who will be leaving us mid May. We would like to thank her for all her hard work and wish her all the very best for the bright future ahead of hear. Priscilla Saporu will be starting in May to replace Cora providing administrative support to the Supporter Relations Team.

Getting Together

Those of you who have been with us for a while now that historically, we have come together once a year for a residential event we have called our ‘Big Get Together’.

This year, we have however decided to do things a little differently.

We recently held one day events in Birmingham and London for staff to celebrate our Best Companies Award as one of the UK’s very best 100 not-for-profit organisations to work for. The feedback from these events was excellent. I attended the London one, and I never knew how much fun could be had with a ball of string and an empty water bottle!

Rather than hold a Big Get Together this year, we have decided to hold a number of Regional Get Togethers. We plan to await the outcome of the Family Services Competition and then plan them so that we can include as many of our new colleagues as possible. I will be completely honest with you, we are doing this partly to save some money, as our budget is very tight this year, due in part to some of the changes already mentioned, and we need to be careful to protect our front line services. But I also think it is worth trying out a fresh approach this year, given how much people enjoyed the regional events. I also hope that this year, if we organise ourselves properly and stagger the dates, all staff should be able to attend a get together. I know some staff have had to ‘mind the shop’ in previous years, and haven’t had the opportunity to attend.

Pixie

Have you logged on to Pixie yet? A huge amount of work has gone into creating a really great intranet for you, and so if you’ve not yet got around to working out how to log on, please do make a bit of time for this.

In case you missed them, the instructions are at the end of this briefing.

ISO27001

As you will be aware from previous communications, Pact Group has secured our ISO27001 standards for data security. We have a rolling programme of audits planned to make sure we are compliant with the requirements. Whilst a fair number of these are to do with our central services - a big, big thank you to Rony Kakooza in particular who has fielded a large number of audits around our IT systems and processes – we have also undertaken audits within our services teams to make sure we are handling data according to our systems and processes. Well done to our teams at Nottingham and Woodhill for passing their second audits and achieving full compliance with our new ISO27001 quality standard for information security management. Please all take a moment to think about how you are handling client, staff, volunteer and organisational data and ensuring you are keeping it safe at all times.

Marathon

A huge congratulations and thank you to the fantastic four who ran the London Marathon for Pact. They clocked up some impressive times:

Our very own Stuart Lynch from the Wales team completed the long 26 miles in 4 hours 39 minutes, he ran with his father Mark who came in at 5:43 and our former colleague, Nia Davies ran it in 4:53, along with supporter Leigh Scarff who was our fastest runner at 4:03. Collectively they have raised just under 5K for Pact. An amazing achievement, and much needed core funding. Thanks guys, and thanks to everyone who sponsored them of course.

And finally…

120th Anniversary Year

2018 will be a special year for us. It will be 120 years since our foundation. We had a different name, and they were very different times. I think our funders at the very end of the nineteenth century would be astonished to see our work today. I’m beginning to give some thought to how we might mark the year. Send me your ideas. I’d be interested to know what you think we could do to celebrate 120 years of service to people affected by imprisonment.

Thank you again for all your hard work and for supporting so many people to cope with their circumstances, and to hope for better times. And thank you for supporting one another. I hope this briefing has been of some interest and use to you. Do let me know what you want to hear about in future briefing notes.

Warmest wishes to you all,

Andy Keen-Downs

CEO