Help Your Britain – User Voice

This week we’re lending our homepage to small charities with the launch of our ‘Help Your Britain’ campaign, showcasing the work of five small UK charities throughout the week and enabling each cause to tell its own story.

There are more than 187,000 registered charities across Great Britain with a story to be told, many of whom will never be heard due to the lack of resources at their disposal. We’re shining the spotlight on these unsung British heroes as part of a long-term campaign, enabling you, the British public, to nominate the charities you would like to see featured on the homepage on the final Friday of each month via www.bing.com/HelpYourBritain.

Today is the turn of …

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User Voice was founded in 2009 by Mark Johnson, an ex-offender whose aim was to foster dialogue between those who have experience of the criminal justice system and the system itself to bring about its reform and reduce offending rates. Its work is led and delivered by ex-offenders who strive to enable unheard voices to make a difference, to urge policy-makers and people with power who make decisions to listen to approaches that can cut crime levels. The organization has partnered with social services, drug and alcohol services, probation trusts and prisons, as well as focusing on specific groups such as young people who are excluded from school or ex-service personnel.

Cordelle Cabey, Regional Youth Co-ordinator, User Voice

Our excluded youth project, What’s Your Story 2011, began in June last year. Having engaged with 740 young people across country, 25 representatives were selected by their peers to attend the annual Youth Justice Convention in November. Being able to speak from their personal experiences of the youth justice system, means that they are the experts on what does and doesn’t work.

At the convention, policy makers and practitioners sat down with the young people and listened to their stories. Together, they came up with recommendations on how to reduce youth crime.

Some thought that the convention was the end of the project. But for us, the journey had only just begun.

The reps have continued to work with User Voice and in December, we attended the House of Lords, where the young people had the chance to meet with politicians, including the Justice Minister Crispin Blunt MP. “I recall one of the reps saying, ‘It’s amazing to know that I’m sitting down with politicians who have indirectly had a big impact on my life.” The young people presented the recommendations from the convention and we discussed how to move things forward.

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<a href="http://video.uk.msn.com/?mkt=en-gb&amp;vid=3c3e82a1-8f44-4ea5-9b6f-b6181f8746bd&amp;from=&amp;src=v5:embed::" target="_new" title="User Voice">Video: User Voice</a>

But the journey doesn’t end there either… Over the coming months, we have a workshop planned with the Youth Justice Board to showcase the thoughts and recommendations of the reps. We also have some of the young people taking part in a training programme as part of a European Commission-funded project aimed at ending violence against children in custody.

For me personally, it’s been a huge privilege to have worked with such an articulate bunch of young people who, from personal experience, are far too often ignored. And what’s more, is the fact that they’re turning potentially negative experiences into positives and giving the excluded youth a VOICE!!

January 2012

Tomorrow we’ll be showcasing Life Cycle UK so be sure to come and look at the great work it is doing in the community. For more information about this week’s charities be sure to have a look here: www.bing.com/HelpYourBritain

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