Our lived experience team support complex clients that can be hard to reach and hard to engage by using their experiences of the criminal justice system and other services. This invaluable quality that peer support workers have has served to enhance the service and provided the opportunity for colleagues to better understand the challenges that service users face and is now embedded across West Yorkshire.

The West Yorkshire Liaison & Diversion team is constantly looking to improve its peer support package and there are plans for the pathway to grow, with extra training and plans to take on more volunteers and create new paid roles.

Liaison & Diversion works to recruit and train potential volunteers with lived experience through our accredited peer mentor training programme. Volunteers are given the opportunity to enhance their skills and experience to grow within the service and wider sector.
The peer support workers and volunteers lead on co-production and lead on shaping service delivery, using their lived experience to ensure that our service works for the benefit of our service users.

Lived Experience Feedback

“I came through Liaison and Diversion (L&D) a little over two years ago as a service user. When I was first introduced to my STR worker I just thought she was going to be another tick the box and fob me off kind of service. But that wasn’t the case. Julie, my STR worker, always made me feel like she cared about what I had been through in life and what I was still going through. Even when I wasn’t engaging with Julie, she kept on contacting me as a duty of care and to me, that spoke volumes.

I had some referrals made and did some one-to-one counselling on the phone through VITA minds. This was helping to speak to somebody. I asked Julie if there was some kind of volunteering within L&D and she mentioned to me about the peer mentoring course in Dewsbury.

The course started and from start to finish I loved it. I learnt so much on the course and so much about myself and how I would handle different situations in all aspects of life. How to deal with different people with different needs and also to listen to other people’s opinions as 9 times out of 10 I don’t always get things right. It showed me to be open about positive criticism and to always look at the problem not the person.

I then started to do some one-to-one volunteer work with some clients talking to them over the phone and checking in with Connor afterwards. I did some conditional cautions with Julie, and I really enjoyed the work I was being shown. I was never left with anything that I didn’t understand and was always debriefed after any face-to-face work I did.

Me and Peer Support & Volunteer Co-ordinator, Connor, got on really well. I had some difficult times over Xmas with it being my first clean Xmas and being in a recovery house. But he checked in with me every couple of days and I opened up to him about how I was feeling and what I was going through. This made things a lot easier when I came back to finish the course after Xmas.

Voluntary work outside of Liaison and Diversion has progressed into me being offered a part time role for the next twelve months. Whilst doing this job role and spending time with my family I’ve had to take a step back from L&D for a while. I came into the office and was shown nothing but love and respect for what I’m doing at the minute. I was told I could always come back when the time is right for me.

But on a serious note, I don’t think I’d be in the position I am today if not for the course and all the team at L&D. Connor and Yan and Julie, I’d like to thank you all so much for being patient with me and showing me so much about myself that I didn’t know.”

Lived Experience Feedback, West Yorkshire Liaison and Diversion