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20th July 2015

Care Act key to change

Amy Hall, CGM CRC's equality and diversity officer, is delighted the organisation is part of a national autism pilot.

Amy Hall, CGM CRC’s equality and diversity officer, talks at a recent learning and disability conference.

by Amy Hall, CGM CRC’s equality and diversity officer.

WHILE government legislation might not be everyone’s cup of tea,, striving to make sure that we are compliant with the recently introduced Care Act is the type of thing I really enjoy.

The Care Act 2014 came into force this year, and it is my responsibility – as the equality and diversity officer for the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CGM CRC) – to make sure that all of our policies and procedures reflect what the legislation entails. Equality and diversity can be viewed as a peculiar job, especially in probation, because it can be hard to define and staff at the front line – those supervising offenders – may struggle to identify exactly what I do. My work regarding the Care Act offers a good example that illustrates why equality and diversity is so important, and why I am so, so passionate about this job.

I started out as a trainee probation officer in Moss Side in 2005. I loved working with offenders, and relished the challenge of supporting people on their path toward rehabilitation. I developed a keen interest in working with women offenders, and – together with local charity Petrus – helped launch the borough’s first women’s centre, a centre which today is flourishing.

I loved working with cases face-to-face, but in my role equality and diversity officer I am now responsible for making a difference to the 10,000 offenders supervised by CGM CRC. And that’s a responsibility which gives me a tremendous drive to succeed.

So, back to the Care Act. It is my responsibility to make sure we are doing the right thing, both legally and morally. The Act deals with how to work with adults who have vulnerabilities and how to protect them from abuse or neglect. It also involves provision about care standards, about health education and about integrating care and support with health services.

Stitching the Care Act agenda into all of the other portfolios that we have is a challenging job, but it is vitally important. The Act impacts upon so many different aspects of probation’s work, and cannot be treated in isolation. It has repercussions for our work in areas as seemingly disparate as care leavers, domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, learning difficulty and disability and radicalisation. For example, it would involve considering our responsibilities in dealing with a woman who suffers domestic abuse and has a learning disability. So it may involve a women’s centre, a referral to adult social care and completing a communication screening tool.

I work on the strategic approach to implementing the Care Act, through to working with CGM CRC’s change managers to make sure that the work is then carried through at each office. I meet with CGM CRC’s assistant chief executives to make sure that domestic abuse policies reflect the Care Act and vice versa, then ensure staff have access to all the up-to-date guidance via our intranet and that they know to look for it.

I can see the difference this work makes to the offenders we serve. I honestly think, that for me, I have the best job in the whole entire world. Previously, as an offender manager, I had the potential to change one life at a time, now I am empowering others to potentially changes the lives of thousands of people we supervise, and their families and wider community.

At the end of the day it’s about maximizing the successful completions of the offenders we supervise. If an offender, for example, has autism, then striving to make sure that our services are accessible to them is not only the legally right thing to do, but also the morally right thing to do.