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Stoke-on-Trent Community of Practice: A Journey of Prison Release

VOICES communities of practice

By Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager, VOICES


On 8th July 2020 @SoTCoP held the first online discussion of a series of sessions looking at the theme of Prison Release.  Anna Mather, Service Coordinator from VOICES, delivered a presentation to the community based on a customer’s real lived experience of his prison release plan.  Participants of the CoP were drawn from voluntary and statutory sector organisations involved in coordinating prison release.  The presentation:


  • demonstrated that, through using public transport routes it was not possible for the customer to have attended any of the organised appointments – the customer was of no fixed abode; two of the appointments were to discuss housing options.
  • included the cost and timings of the journey if the individual had used taxi service(s) – costs are so high this would be a very unlikely option.
  • showed that, being collected and supported by a VOICES Service Coordinator it was possible for the individual to have attended four of the six organised appointments.


VOICES prison release slide
Slide from presentation


Discussion followed; it was felt by the community that, if the person left prison with this plan with no Service Coordinator or other support, and was expected to access public transport, the plan would ‘set them up to fail’.  Community members also shared examples of positive practices, information and resources and examples of changes made related to Covid 19 lock down.  Consideration was given to the sustainability of changes post lock down and best hopes were also discussed.


“The Community of Practice are a group of professionals and people with lived experiences who like to work with a solution-focused approach, breaking down barriers for the people experiencing multiple needs. @SoTCoP is a great way to make a difference and to build networks. Together we are stronger and can create systems change. Prison Release discussion is a conversation that is needed. The Navigate team, as part of Concrete, are a fantastic team who live and breathe the support they supply to prison release”

Voluntary Sector Participant



The theme of Prison Release discussion will continue in the monthly community of practice with the aim of coproducing a report with findings and recommendations later in the year.

If you do not already receive an invitation to @SoTCoP and you would like to be part of the conversation, please contact Lee Dale, Community Development Coordinator / @SoTCoP Coordinator, VOICES:  [email protected]

The next session will be held on 12th August 2020 and will be delivered online to accommodate remote access.

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