Together launches new criminal justice support service for people with a personality disorder diagnosis

On the 1st of April 2020, despite also dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, Together was proud to launch a new Engagement & Enhanced Relational Support Service (EERSS) which draws on the principles of mentoring and advocacy. The team have adapted to launch the service remotely initially in line with social distancing and it offers men screened in to the Offender Personality Disorder (OPD) Pathway interaction with an independent trained worker over a period of up to 12-18 months. That voluntary interaction is an intensive, person-centred and consistent approach of one-to-one inter-personal, pro-social, supportive and empowering support. The service is focused on addressing the needs of men who are from BAME backgrounds and are aged under 30, but we will also support other people who may need it. The criminal justice management team would like to thank all members of the new service for their dedication and efforts to mobilise it at such a challenging time

The Service provides emotional and practical support with particular emphasis on:

  • Motivation and engagement
  • Practical issues (including family)
  • Relationships (with family, staff and peers)
  • Navigating and accessing services (including education and employment)
  • Self-esteem and empowerment

Examples of specific services provided may include the following although this list is not exhaustive:

  • Support with housing applications
  • Support with contributions to MAPPA meetings
  • Motivational encouragement/ support towards treatment, education and work
  • Support in obtaining grants, e.g. clothing grants
  • Accompanying service users to appointments/ release on temporary licence visits
  • Support with finance issues, including navigating benefits systems
  • Emotional support in person and by telephone
  • Support in relation to your family
  • Support in self-advocating so that you can gain skills and confidence
  • Developing pro-social support networks
  • Providing feedback about your developing skills
  • Support with offence disclosure

The service is co-commissioned by NHS England and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service for an initial 2 year period and is part of the Offender Personality Disorder pathway. Together will be working in partnership with other services within the pathway including NHS Trusts, Women in Prison and Penrose. Each partner will deliver different aspects of support while also collaborating to support the person in a holistic way. The service will involve working closely with the National Probation Service as they are the main referrers to the service and the main point of contact regarding the service user. Our work will be feeding into their case risk formulation and management. At this stage we will be supporting only males within the pathway.

The criminal justice team have been arranging virtual inductions for new staff where we utilised different ways for people to get introduced to the wider organisation. Thank you to Mandy Chainey and Jess Worner for the support they provided to our Peer Support Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator when they started. It’s also the first time the criminal justice service will have volunteers and they are very excited to have the opportunity to develop this new aspect of the service. The team are also keen to be able to expand their peer support offer and the coordinator was actually a peer supporter for the liaison and diversion service previously.

Currently the team are in consultation with service users around potentially changing the name of the service to use something that people understand and that avoids stigma. Personality disorder in particular can attach a lot of stigma for people and we want to alleviate that as much as possible. We will be doing this through our direct work with service users as well as Offender Managers. The service is offered remotely currently and the team are planning to introduce it to the different London quadrants. They are aiming of having a wider launch as soon they’ve done some initial communication work with Offender Managers across London.