Service users, staff and volunteers met to celebrate the best work carried out by Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company at the organisation’s inaugural recognition event.
Representatives from User Voice came up with the idea during one of the CRC’s Service User Council meetings.
Certificates for all of those nominated were handed out by M CRC’s chief executive Chris Edwards and Mark Johnson, User Voice’s chief executive.
Service users, staff and people from partner agencies nominated peer mentors, User Voice and M CRC’s staff for recognition.
Chris said: “It was humbling and inspirational to hear about the work being done across Merseyside to help people make positive changes to their lives.
“Many of the nominations came with heartfelt nominations submitted by service users.
“They told of the support they had received. This testimony speaks volumes for the work being delivered day in day out by M CRC in often challenging circumstances to promote rehabilitation.”
Mark urged service users to have hope for the future. He talked about his life as a homeless drug addict who eventually quit illegal substances before setting up a successful company.
He said: “As people with lived experience of the criminal justice system, we know that we cannot change things on our own. Probation helped me get into rehab and I recognise that professionals play an absolutely pivotal role in introducing people to a new life.”
Following Mark’s successful business career, and in recognition of the work he did giving employment opportunities to offenders, he was invited to sit on the national probation board.
He said: “I realised that they weren’t thinking like the end user and how to apply their theories to them, and that simply was because they hadn’t experienced the life that we have, nor faced the barriers that we have to overcome.
“That’s where my idea for User Voice came from, and that’s why I’m especially delighted to be here today because this event is a result of a proposal developed by User Voice representatives and the service users they work with.
“I know from my time on the streets that probation is the only organisation out there that everyone knows about; whether you are seeking change but don’t know how to through to those who aren’t ready to do so yet.
“I also want those service users who have made the commitment to change to appreciate that the sky is the limit.”
M CRC had more than 20 nominations. These had been submitted by staff, volunteers, service user council representatives and service users.
Connor was one of those to receive a certificate. He is a former service user who now volunteers on Merseyside’s Service User Council.
He said: “It has meant an awful lot to me to be here today and to receive this recognition. I really enjoy the work I do through the council and to help the CRC develop and reflect the views of its service users.”
The event was organised by the council together with M CRC’s Rosie Goodwin, Sharon Reddy and Louise Grzyb. It was hosted at the Cunard last week.
The winners were: case managers Steve Swan, Peter Jones, Chris Atkin, Karen Kershaw, Lynsey Barker, Clare Chambers, Julie Farrell, Lucy Maylor and John Lavin; Community Payback placement coordinators May Diskaya and Sue Lam; Shirley Chung from the Professional Services Centre; volunteers and peer mentors Adelle Melling, Paula Gerrard, Zana Cerpiekiene, Maria Stanley and Melissa Jackman together with User Voice representatives Kevin Danningher, Connor Southern and Ed Byrne.
PHOTO CAPTION: Mark Johnson, User Voice’s chief exec, pictured left with Connor and Chris Edwards, M CRC’s chief exec.