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Interview with Together Wellbeing Pathway Enhanced Project Manager Despina Bardosi

Posted on 10, December 2020

We caught up with Despina Bardosi who is Enhanced Project Manager at Together in the criminal justice team managing the Together Wellbeing Pathway. The Together Wellbeing Pathway (TWP) is commissioned as a part of the Offender Personality Disorder (OPD) pathway in London. The OPD Pathway is part of the Integrated Community Service (ICS), managed by the London Pathways Partnership (LPP) and the National Probation Service (NPS). It is jointly funded, commissioned and delivered by HMPPS and NHS England.

The aim of the OPD Pathway is to improve the management of people who have offended and who are likely to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of personality disorder. The OPD Pathway takes place predominantly within the criminal justice system (CJS) and takes a Biopsychosocial approach. In this interview Despina explains more about the pathway, the challenges people who have received a diagnosis like this and her previous roles:

What is the Together Wellbeing Pathway and how does it support people? 

The Together Wellbeing Pathway is a new service of Together, launched in April 2020. We aim to support males in the community who have been impacted by traits of personality disorder and have been screened on London’s Offender Personality Disorder (OPD) Pathway. Those referred to us have the opportunity to access for up to 18 months one or a combination of the following options of our support: 

  1. Emotional support provided by our Forensic Mental Health Practitioners. The person learns techniques that help him manage their mood and increase their emotional and social wellbeing.  
  2. Peer Support provided by our Peer Support Volunteers, who used their lived experience and relational skills to help the person feel more empowered, motivated, confident and able to build better relationships. 
  3. Practical Support offered by our Practical Support Volunteers, who help the person with practical matters, such as attending medical appointments, completing applications, accessing training and employment opportunities.  

We focus predominantly but not exclusively on individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and/or those between the ages of 18-30 years old.

What is your role in the pathway and what other roles have you worked in previously? 

As the Enhanced Project Manager, I am responsible for establishing and developing this service, line managing the team of of the Forensic Mental Health Practitioners and the Volunteer and Peer Support Co-ordinators and I hold accountability for health and safety, clinical governance and safeguarding. On the side of this role I am a Mindfulness Teacher training people who to leave mindfully. Previously I worked as Development Manager for a charity that offers therapeutic support to young people affected by trauma and violence. And just before that I spent 3 years at Together as Project Manager for the Liaison and Diversion Service and as a Forensic Mental Health Practitioner.

What are some of the challenges people who have received or are likely to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of personality disorder who have spent time in prison face when looking to re-integrate into society after release?

The journey within the criminal justice system itself is a highly traumatic experience. Added to this, the label of ‘a personality disorder diagnosis’ can stigmatise people for life.  A big number of our service users end up feeling socially isolated, having only very few opportunities to integrate with their local communities. This is why our Together Wellbeing Pathway service is here to offer support which is: 

  • Person-centred: We help the person find what works for them and we do this by focusing on the person’s needs rather than any diagnosis 
  • Trauma-informed: we recognise the impact of trauma  
  • Compassion-focused: we respond to the person’s experience with compassion and we also teach them how to become compassionate to themselves and others 
  •  Asset-based: We empower the person to build on their own strengths