Jo Coles - York and North Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing, Fire and Crime

Jo Coles - North Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing, Fire and Crime

20 July, 2020

Liaison, Diversion and the Power of Lived Experience

“Its proper decent, really really decent ... Hopefully I can become a Support Worker. I could do that for a few years then see where it takes me. My dream goal is to become a copper eventually.”

At the start of the year North Yorkshire Youth Commission member Josh Allenby was offered the opportunity to apply for an Apprenticeship with the Liaison & Diversion Service.

The opportunity came about through the Youth Commission’s work with the North Yorkshire County Council Public Health Hub and York Youth Justice Service.

The Liaison and Diversion service is delivered by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV). TEWV delivers mental health and learning disabilities services across County Durham, Tees Valley, York and North Yorkshire.

Its liaison and diversion team supports people of all ages, who are in contact with the Criminal Justice System and experience mental health problems, learning disabilities, or who may need support with other vulnerabilities.

The service is delivered in partnership with Spectrum and Humankind and in accordance with NHS England service specifications.

This sounded like a great service and a fantastic opportunity for Josh, so I separately caught up with him and TEWV Peer Mentor and Volunteer Coordinator, Laura Pitt, to ask them how the apprenticeship is going five months in.

How would you describe the liaison and diversion service?

Josh : “Its proper decent yeah really really decent. They give you a lot of support the staff take things slowly with you so you can get used to the workload.”

What’s the day job like what what are you actually doing?

Josh : “At the moment I’m doing case notes, I’m starting to contact support services to connect people to. I’m writing emails, making calls and doing the team huddle.”

How do the people become part of your caseload?

Josh : “To be offered the L&D service you’ve got to be nicked. You’ve got to get arrested. If you’ve got mental health issues or drug and alcohol issues etc and if you need support, the Custody Sergeant can ask us to have a look and check to see if you want help. Our job is to link that person with other means of support outside of custody. So we’ll go over, we’ll have an initial chat with them and find out a bit about them. We’ll start talking about what kind of stuff they have got going on in their lives. So it’s quite interesting to be fair.”

“Yeah, it sounds bad but you have got to be arrested to get a change. Sometimes this is the best time to meet people as they are ready for a change. Some of these services, you can self refer but some you have to be referred by us it depends on what service you need.”

So what what attracted you to doing an apprenticeship there in the first place?

Josh : I met Laura and she explained it all. She got me interested and it sounded really cool. She like, kind of hooked me in a little bit on what stuff i’d be doing and also I’ll get my level two health and social care qualification. I was quite interested in that because I know that’s widely recognised.

Why is it important for the L&D Service to work with Apprentices who have relevant lived experience?

Laura : The Liaison and Diversion Service is eager to work with Apprentices with relevant lived experience, to ensure that the service works for those it is intended to help. Lived Experience Apprentices play a vital role in improving engagement, obtaining feedback, and developing the Liaison and Diversion Service.

What had your previous experiences of learning been like?

Josh : Awful!

How is this different?

Josh : I do a lot of work directly with Laura, the work is flexible for my shift patterns to fit in my other jobs. Laura is supportive, she seems to trust me and she’s not on my case all the time. I’m encouraged, given time to prepare and time to deliver what I need to deliver.

What does Josh bring to the role and what opportunities will it bring to him?

Laura : Josh has been incredibly enthusiastic since he joined the Liaison and Diversion team, always having a smile on his face and a positive attitude – especially considering the extra challenges that COVID-19 has posed! Josh excels in his communicative ability, enabling him to both effectively support Service Users, and discuss his ideas with other members of the Team and external professionals. By undertaking a wide variety of training with different services, I hope Josh feels he has the opportunity to explore his own passion for supporting others, and work towards his goals for the future. The role of an Apprentice also brings the opportunity to influence and shape the service for future Service Users.

So what’s does the future look like?

Josh : I’m not too sure you know. Hopefully I can become a Support Worker. It means I get a lot more responsibility and there is a lot more in the role so maybe I could do that for a few years then see where it takes me. My dream goal is to become a copper eventually.

Do you feel like you’re making a difference?

Josh : Ask me in 6 months time and I’m pretty sure I will be.

Interview by Chris James

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