What the Scholarship does is go beyond the frustrations of knowing what could work and help those individuals make it work. Innovation is about trying things out, doing things differently, taking chances and pushing at the norm.

The value of the Streetcraft Scholarship

Posted on 18 Feb in

Louise Clark and Richard Nicholls

We all look for opportunities to be creative in our day to day work, but sometimes the demands on our time and the pressures of the outside environment can mean that finding space to build innovate ideas can be challenging. It’s not that there isn’t support from colleagues and managers necessarily, but the need for frontline delivery – particularly now when the demand is high and budgets are squeezed – means that we can’t take the eye off the ball long enough to try something new.

We have seen a huge pool of untapped skills and knowledge in the different sectors that exist in criminal justice. Centre for Justice Innovation’s StreetCraft Scholarship is an innovative program that helps frontline criminal justice workers unleash not just those skills but also their passions and grow their ideas.

After all, it is those in the frontline who see the challenges, solutions and possibilities on a daily basis. In our experience, the project ideas sometimes have buy-in and interest by colleagues and partner organisations, but there is often no-one to fund or manage or take it forward, so it hits a wall. What the Scholarship does is go beyond the frustrations of knowing what could work and help those individuals make it work. Innovation is about trying things out, doing things differently, taking chances and pushing at the norm. This can easily be squashed and enthusiasm wavers when you are trying to change things alone or without the opportunity to see a way of navigating through barriers.

This is why the Scholarship is so valuable. It enables individuals to find that space to sit and think and try something out and for Clinks to bring our expertise in supporting the development of those ideas through the barriers.

We see an opportunity for linking the scholars to individuals and networks with whom they can discuss their plans and grow those ideas; we can provide the reports and guides to help steer their thinking and become a sounding board for the next steps and project plans. We have a handle on their vision, so that the scholars can test things, whilst we encourage momentum.

What becomes clear when this space is provided is that the scholars’ ideas explode into excited activity, with thoughts tumbling out and a broader vision of where their initial ideas could now go. We help keep the scholars focused and moving forward, as it is a relatively short space of time from thinking about an idea to realising its parts, if not all of it. Some of the directions change or even go off then come back full circle – a luxury allowed when testing innovation in this way.

The excitement is quite contagious and it’s great to spend regular time with individuals who are passionately discussing their ideas and putting them into action and helping them to meet their goals. For Clinks it’s also great to see stronger cross-sector engagement emerge through the projects, particularly with the voluntary and community sector and the needs of offenders as core to the ideas being explored.

So we very much welcome being part of the providers of space for innovation to grow, in helping creative individuals realise their plans to improve provision, systems and support in the criminal justice sector, and to see committed frontline staff flourish.

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