The Prison Leavers Innovation Challenge
Regular readers will know that the Innovations Challenge aims to harness innovation from the tech sector to develop new technological tools and solutions that will help prison leavers stay on the straight and narrow, reducing the harms associated with crime. It is run as a two-phased Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition and the MoJ has just announced which nine companies have received Government funding of up to £25,000 each to prototype their solution. The second phase will involve four of these companies receiving Government funding of up to £350,000, as well as mentorship support, to develop their solution and design a pilot which will run for a one year period. Details of the successful phase 1 bidders and their proposed solutions can be seen below.
Offploy, is a social enterprise committed to improving the lives of all members of the community, regardless of their criminal record. Its mission is to reduce reoffending and make society safer by placing people with criminal convictions into meaningful, mentored and sustainable employment.
Offploy’s proposed solution is called Attend.Me and acts as a “Calendly” for prisoner leavers. It will collate all appointments between the prison leaver and essential service providers as well as tracking other time-sensitive obligations such as hostel curfew, job interviews and when prescriptions are ready to collect from the pharmacy. Attend.me offers service providers a detailed calendar of the candidate’s appointments so their time can be managed effectively.
Dr Gemma Morgan from the Legal Innovation Lab Wales, part of Swansea University and Include UK are a consortium of experts from academia, industry and the third sector. They provide innovative digital solutions to support people in the criminal justice system on their journey to desistance and champion digital technology for social good.
Their proposed solution is a web-based application to support people in the criminal justice system to desist from crime, improve their well-being and integration into the community. The application allows the user to assess their own needs, track their progress and seamlessly integrate them with support services. The application has been co-produced with practitioners and services users; it combines academic research evidence with service user experience. It draws on what works and desistance theories and places the person at the centre of tailored support. It can be used by both the prison leaver and their probation officer/support worker to support progress.
Make Time Count
The Make Time Count platform helps vulnerable people connect to local services that can help them. Their innovative solution eliminates 1000s of hours of staff admin, freeing up critical time to support users.
Their proposed solution is a rehabilitation and predictive analytics platform that helps prison leavers communicate and engage with relevant support services on their day of release and beyond, setting up key appointments and recommending vital interventions through the secure sharing of multi-agency information; advanced reoffending prediction tools; and targeted user intervention mechanisms. The solution allows the Prison Leaver to view a single calendar containing all appointments and prescription regimens and is available as a smart phone “app” and an online portal.
Innovative Alliance was created to support people in their desire to develop their skills and become economically active. Through specially designed courses they listen, engage, build confidence, harness ability, and unlock hidden potential.
Their proposed solution is “The Bridge”, a website and multi-platform “app” that focuses on reducing the feelings of isolation and helplessness, which are common triggers in re-offending. It will allow prison leavers to contact several charities and organizations efficiently and to develop a support network of peers and specialists. The intention is to create a sense of belonging to their local area, remove barriers to pro-social behavior and encourage engagement in community life.
Yalla is a collective of developers and designers, working together across the UK, Gaza and Germany, shared in our belief that transcending borders through technology makes us stronger in designing the tools and teams needed to drive positive social change across the world. Yalla work with charities, non-profits and social enterprises, building solutions to tackle societal challenges through technology. Shannon Trust is a national charity operating across all prisons in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, supporting adults to learn to read. They are now expanding their services into the community, and are looking to make their reading programme more widely accessible.
Their proposed solution is a digital learning portal aimed at prison leavers with Learning Difficulties & Disabilities and low literacy levels which is based on the “Turning Pages” learning model created by The Shannon Trust. “Turning Pages” is a tried and tested learning programme that has been used and developed in prison over the past 5 years delivering demonstrable impact. Learners will be able to get immediate feedback, have customised learning methods to suit their behaviours, set personal goals, track their progress and easily blend self-learning with mentor support (in person and through the tool). The solution will be available across multiple platforms both within prison and in the wider community.
Meganexus and SWIM
Meganexus is a leading provider of secure software solutions to the public sector and organisations which deliver public services. Meganexus support professionals in all disciplines who help improve the lives of citizens. They are the developers behind Virtual Campus available in all prisons in England and Wales. SWIM is a community interest company that empowers people in Hackney and its neighbouring communities to improve their health, well-being and life chances.
Their proposed solution is a digital wallet that enables a prison leaver and their support network in the community to provide documents and information that are traditionally difficult to collect, store and share while in custody. The solution permits prisoner leavers to engage with external support networks beyond the prison walls, and allows their wider support network to share critical documentation with them in turn. They can do so through access of Virtual Campus in prisons. Through an easily accessible, web-based portal, SWIM support workers in the community will view documents for their allocated prisoner leavers and upload documents on their behalf, as well as that of their family or wider support network.
My Kinda Future
MyKindaFuture are a HR tech company with a social purpose, specialising in supporting underrepresented talent into work and succeed once there. They work within multiple sectors providing our world-class mentoring platform, Connectr, to talent across the UK alongside our partner employers and organisations.
Their proposed solution is a mentoring platform – ‘Connectr’ – which will support prison leavers to build a positive, non-criminal identities, through tracking their goals, reflecting on their progression and embedding positive behaviour change. Features include bitesize learning content (such as wellbeing and employability), digital mentoring and digitally trackable goals. As partners, St Giles Trust will also provide peer advisors with lived experience of prison, to develop learning content and access to service users.
BecomingX is a learning and development company set up to create a world where everyone can realise their potential. Co-founded by adventurer Bear Grylls, it creates films with the world’s most inspiring and iconic people and develops technologies and content to help people build the confidence and skills to succeed.
Their proposed solution, ‘Advance’, is a digital platform to provide prison leavers with mentoring support and practical life skills to help them after they are released. Advance aims to inspire prison leavers and help them build the self-belief and skills to succeed.
Orbital Global is a world-leading digital service and technology company based in the UK. It has been identified for inclusion in the Tech East 100, Future 50, and is one of only 30 companies to be accepted on the national Innovate UK Scale-up Programme. Orbital is working in collaboration with The Disabilities Trust,, a charity that works alongside people with an acquired brain injury, autism, and/or learning or physical disabilities to help them live as independently as possible. The Disabilities Trust has been making a difference to the lives of people with a brain injury by sharing its extensive experience and knowledge through research and the piloting of new ideas in a range of settings including criminal justice settings.
Their proposed solution is a web-based application to identify and support prison leavers who have a history of acquired brain injury (ABI). The web portal provides validated screening for brain injury through a series of targeted questions. These tools are based on a neurobehavioural approach to rehabilitation, which recognises and adjusts for the effects of a brain injury on cognition, emotion and other aspects of neuropsychological function on day-to-day life. The tools offer techniques that support and maximise learning and behaviour change. The application can be used by both the prison leaver and their probation officer to support progress.
Thanks to Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona for kind permission to use the header image in this post which was previously published on Unsplash.