We spoke to Roisín Briody, Policy and Commissioning Manager at MOPAC, about the Youth to Adult Hub (Transitions to Adulthood Pilot) which she has overseen since its inception.
The Transitions to Adulthood pilot was established following various reports, including from the Justice Select Committee, that highlighted the failures of the criminal justice system as a whole in tailoring approaches adequately to, and in addressing the needs of, young adults. It was clear that though there was a lot of knowledge available about brain development and maturity, this has not been taken on by the criminal justice system. The pilot aimed to address these issues and test a more developmentally appropriate way of working with young adults to see if it had an impact on desistance and wider life outcomes. This included recognising that when someone turns 18, they do not fundamentally change overnight, and so the support offered to them should be tailored to their maturity levels and needs. Children under the age of 18 are supported by the Youth Justice Services which provide holistic, Child First support. When a young person turns 18, they transition to adult probation, which is often experienced as a ‘sharp cliff-edge’ in terms of the support available and how this is delivered.
As a result, the Youth 2 Adult (Y2A) Hub was established, the first of its kind in the UK. The Y2A Hub is a multi-agency hub for all young people on probation in Newham. It aims to offer a developmentally appropriate and maturity-informed approach to working with these young adults, which involves working in a trauma-informed way. The hub supports young people to gradually become adults and teaches them the skills that they need to be able to positively engage with services, including in the transition to adult services. It has been fully operational since April 2022.
The Y2A Hub was originally set up as a government funded pilot and is a collaboration between MOPAC, the Ministry of Justice and London Probation with MOPAC acting as programme manager and lead commissioner.
The Y2A hub is a multidisciplinary team made up of multiple different services all co-located alongside probation under one roof. The hub works with all 18–25-year-olds on probation and 17-year-olds transitioning from the Youth Justice Service to adult probation. This includes both young men and women, regardless of offence type. There is some flexibility with the upper age limit, and so the hub occasionally works with 26-year-olds, particularly when this makes sense in relation to the lengths and times of their orders. To ensure a safe and trauma-informed environment, young women access hub support from the local women’s centre.
To set up the hub, a gap analysis process was completed to look at the needs of young adults on probation and the support that is available to this group, so that the gaps could be identified. As a result, MOPAC commissioned eight services, as well as establishing partnerships with other relevant organisations. Services currently available to access through the hub include:
- Emotional wellbeing
- Speech and language therapy
- Mentoring and coaching
- Housing support
- Education, training and employment (inc. attendance of DWP job centre worker)
- Young women’s support
- Meaningful activities (such as lyric writing sessions and personal development )
- Substance misuse
- Restorative justice
- Sexual health services
MOPAC also commissioned a bespoke training and workforce development programme package on working with young adults that is delivered to all of the staff within the hub. This focused on understanding maturity, developmental stages, needs and trauma-informed practice.
Measuring Success & Evaluation
A hybrid evaluation is being carried out by MOPAC Evidence & Insight team, who are completing the performance and impact analysis, and by universities commissioned by the Ministry of Justice (Sheffield Hallam and Middlesex), who are completing the qualitative side of the evaluation. Interim reports have been produced, highlighting promising early outcomes from the pilot. The interim performance report is due to be published by MOPAC in October 2023 and the final report from the academics is due to be published in March 2024.
The Hub also includes an embedded service user engagement service which ensures service delivery is shaped by young adults’ voices. The service user engagement service is delivered by User Voice, who are based in the hub a couple of days a week. They lead on engaging with the young adults and capturing their feedback and opinions on the service. As this service is led by people with lived experience of the justice system, the feedback received is much richer, as young people know that they are speaking to someone who can relate to them, and who is more separate from probation. They produce reports every quarter, develop proposals for improvements to the hub, look at particular themes or just generally get young people’s feedback on the service. This ensures that commissioners have continuous feedback coming through from the young people and has meant that changes can be made to ensure the service is taking into account the opinions of those it is supporting.
Evidence of Success & Testimonials
Below we have included some quotes from young adults who have accessed the Y2A hub. These were extracted from a quarterly engagement report produced by User Voice.
“This is my last session but honestly I have felt so safe and supported here, I never felt like I had a space to talk about my trauma before because it was always shrouded in my offence but coming here made me realise that without my trauma the offence wouldn't have happened and that was a turning point for me.”
“I never feel like I am treated like someone who has broken the law, this place is focused on healing.”
“I have been really supported and they have brought my family in as well to make sure everyone understands what is going on and how to move forward in the best way.”
Further, HMIP’s 2022 inspection of Newham Probation noted “promising signs that a relationship-based approach was impacting positively on some assessment and planning activity, particularly with young adults aged 18-25. Work with this young adult cohort was coordinated well within a multi-agency, co-located Transitions Hub pilot. While it is too early to effectively evaluate the long-term success of this pilot, our observations were positive, and we saw evidence of genuinely ambitious and innovative work taking place”.
The pilot is currently funded until the end of March 2024, however Roisin tells us that MOPAC are hoping to develop a plan for sustainability. Both MOPAC and the Ministry of Justice are keen to consider what the findings from the pilot mean for young adults probation policy more broadly.
For more information about the Y2A Hub, please contact Roisin.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Case study by Miranda Paris, 2023.