Helping our partners in the offender / reoffending space to embrace neurodiversity

by Jun 16, 2022Campaigning, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Funding, News, Prisoners and ex-offenders

Last week was my second week of secondment with the Foundation Team and I was fortunate to be able to attend a two-day Neurodiversity Train the Trainer event. It was delivered by Helen Arnold Richardson from DO-It Solutions, and was specifically for our Foundation charity partners who work with offenders and ex-offenders – all with one shared goal, to reduce reoffending. Our partners in this space includes St Giles, Groundwork, Bounce Back, No Going Back and HMP Hull – as well as colleagues from Intertrain.

Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as shortfalls. Our brains naturally vary from person to person.

The word neurodiversity is an umbrella term referring to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities.

DO-IT Train the Trainer

I had an incredible two days and learned so much from both Helen and the attendees. The challenges in the offender/reoffender space are huge for both awareness and, facilitation of people with neurodiverse traits. Did you know that 1 in 8 of us in the mainstream population have a neurodiverse condition? This drops to 1 in 3 when talking about individuals in the criminal justice system.

This creates massive challenges for neurodivergent individuals such as social isolation, understanding instruction and retaining information and expressing themselves clearly to name but a few. This can lead to them being at increased risk of anxiety, depression and suicide.

It is not all dark however! With partners like the amazing charities in that room – they want to change the system one step at a time. Things like getting assessments done early with prisoners before they enter the system to highlight their strengths and ambitions and to enable the prison staff to put supports in place. Often such little changes such as peer mentors or familiarisation and inductions can make such a huge difference.

In partnership with DO-It we are giving all of our partners access to the profiler tool which provides a person-centred neurodiversity, cognitive and wellbeing screening and assessment system. This will give the beneficiaries of our partners an assessment with immediate practical guidance on the strengths and challenges tailored to that individual. I can’t wait to see the impact that this training and the tool will have on so many individuals!

There is not one person or one condition that defines our differences (or our similarities). We are too often defined by what we can’t do and not by what we can. This is providing support and a way to enable each person to achieve their potential – something that we’re passionate about doing in the City & Guilds Foundation.

To find out more about the amazing work that DO-It Solutions is doing please click here.

To find out more about the neurodiversity event from our 2021 I&D series, and to listen to the recording, please click here.

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