RECONNECT: Cross Border

On Thursday September 29, 2022, on the first floor of Millenium Point in Birmingham I had the honour and pleasure of chairing NHS England’s learning and development day. The day provided an opportunity for RECONNECT services to come together to meet, share ideas and improve ways of working together.

It was not only a pleasure to have chaired the event, but it was also wonderful to hear about some of the fantastic work that is happening right now.

The first speaker I introduced was Kate Morrissey. Kate is the National Implementation Lead for the RECONNECT and Enhanced RECONNECT services. It was for Kate to provide an overview of the RECONNECT service, the plans for the service, and what the national team have been doing so far to support cross border/out of area work.

We then got to hear from three teams from across England, Greater Manchester, Thames Valley, and the Southwest regions who highlighted good practices along with the challenges of referring people being released from prison cross county and cross country.

The three teams were all brilliant and if I were to pick out my favourite part it would be the third of the teams, the Southwest. Mainly down to one person who made a passioned and emotional call to action for women in Eastwood Park returning to Wales to get the same support than if they were being released locally. It wasn’t the first time someone spoke with passion and emotion, which coincidentally was also about Eastwood Park, and as this person had previously served in Eastwood Park her words struck a chord with me.

Lunch buffets in my experience are a bit hit and miss but hats off to the catering staff at Millenium Point, Thursday’s lunch was both varied and tasty. I’d recommend Millenium Point to anyone with an event to facilitate.

After lunch, it was over to Wales, and we got to hear from Tim Nunn. Tim is a regional adviser to North Wales, Powys, Dyfed, and Gwent on problematic substance use and he provided us with an overview of problematic substance use, mental health, and housing approaches in Wales and the Welsh Government’s commitment to offender health work in prison and the community.

Following Tim, we then listened to Rhian Lovell who is the deputy head of reducing reoffending at The Probation Service. Then, Victoria Harris, head of Blueprint Implementation overseeing thematic delivery for women and young people in the criminal justice system. And finally, Meinir Edwards, OPDP lead for the Wales Offender Personality Disorder Pathway who all provided us with an overview of the landscape in Wales in problematic substance use, mental health, and housing as well as how HMPPS are aiming to support individuals in the criminal justice system.

Up next was what my cover picture relates to, the group networking task where groups were asked to work together to identify one challenge of supporting people cross region or cross country and a viable solution to resolve this.

Moving with a microphone between all the tables, fourteen of them, I felt more like a best man at a wedding and even had a little jig across the stage on my way back to the podium before moving on to our last, but not least, speaker, Sameer Iqbal. Sameer is the stakeholder lead for the Lived Experience Charter and presented to the services how they can get involved. Along with being the stakeholder lead, where Sameer’s role is to engage and lead services commissioned by NHS Health in Justice to gain lived experience charter status, he is also the health in justice lead for Career Matters who were commissioned to deliver the lived experience charter.

And that was the end of what was for me an incredible experience. One I’ll never forget. By April 2024, RECONNECT will have 100% coverage. Having said that, from day one I have had 100% faith in RECONNECT and Thursday validated my faith.


2 thoughts on “RECONNECT: Cross Border

  1. What a positive event David, and what a great recognition for you, well deserved too, to chair it. Fantastic experience and thanks for sharing to show there is hope for change.

    Liked by 1 person

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