Campaigning conference 2019: Leading with lived experience
Leading with lived experience
Paula Harriott – Head of Prisoner Engagement at PRT
Aims of this
Not to talk about Brexit!
Lessons re involving staff and service users in an
organisational culture change
Examples of challenges and successes at PRT
Advocacy and Influencing organisation
Penal reform sector historically benevolent and
concerned for the vulnerable
2017 change at Prison Reform Trust; new Chair James
Timpson, New Director Peter Dawson
Creation of new Senior Management Team post to lead
Upside Down management (Timpson)
Power Bias and lack of diversity (Paula)
What is lived
and why is it
We all have lived experience but not all have lived experience of
imprisonment; lack of multiplicity of perspectives leads to one
What assumptions drive why we do the work in prison reform?
Do we seek to serve? Who do we serve? whose agenda are we seeking to
Are we being honest with our end users about the organisational mission?
Are we being honest in the team about direction?
How are we going to make sure our service SERVES?
Do NOT rush to a
You can have an idea where you want
to go, but you have to include
everyone in the process
You might miss insights
You might not bring everyone with
You must prepare yourself to be
Ceding control is uncomfortable
If you aren’t uncomfortable, then
you aren’t doing it right.
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND
Listening to the
What do we think the purpose of PRT is?
What do we think we are doing? Are we doing
well? Could we be part of the problem?
Why do we think we are the best people to do
What are the organisational values?
Are we a diverse team?
What is missing?
How can we improve?
What should be in our next five year plan?
That our team wasn’t very diverse
That we didn’t always recognise the
power and privilege that manifests
in “helping” activities
That we must seek to serve rather
than help the community of
What we did
Roadshow with prisoners in a series
of workshops in prison
Listened to what prisoners wanted
from PRT and what they thought of
Asked external partners what they
thought of PRT
What did we
Changed the priorities in our five year plan
Less SMT meetings, more all staff meetings weekly staff
Long sentence prisoners
More popular communications strategy
Strengthened diversity on the Board and in staff team; Board
meetings in prison
Set up Prisoner Policy Network for continued involvement of
prisoners and 26 supporting organisations
Continued programme of listening
Prisoner Policy Network
Building a collective voice of prisoners
Identification of emerging prisoner leaders
Not extraction, but community development
Every interaction means we give purposefully
What is it that you not want to hear?
What would be a challenge for you as an organisation?
What would you do if you heard it?
Be upfront about the differences
“The report attempts to represent the views of those who
responded to this consultation, rather than the views of Prison
Reform Trust. As such, verbatim quotes from respondents are used
liberally throughout (in italics) so that the story is told through the
words of those with the lived experience and not through the words
of the report writer”.
What would happen if you didn’t include solely because it doesn’t fit your
Be prepared to challenge yourselves
How much are you prepared to change due to feedback?
Are there questions for your senior leaders?
Head of Prisoner Involvement at Prison Reform Trust