September 13th, 2016

User Voice to scale-up its impact with support worth £580,000 from SBT

A social enterprise that gives a voice to people in prison and on probation, increasing their chance of successful rehabilitation, is set to double its reach thanks to a package of new investment from Social Business Trust (SBT) announced today.

User Voice currently helps one third of all people in prison and on probation in England and Wales. Through its councils and consultation services it provides critical feedback to prison governors and probation service managers.

Now SBT is awarding the organisation a package of cash and expert business support worth £580,000. It will enable User Voice to expand the number of people it works with directly from just over 10,000 to almost 20,000 a year.

SBT’s corporate partners Bain & Company, British Gas, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse, EY, Permira and Thomson Reuters will provide the expert support ranging from business development to strategy and financial planning. User Voice will also get funding to recruit a head of business development and a finance specialist.

User Voice has secured this package after completing the SBT Design programme which supports thriving, ambitious social enterprises to devise growth plans worthy of further investment.

David Delaney, Thomson Reuters European Head of Strategic Customers has already taken on the role of SBT Investment Director for User Voice. Permira Investment Professional Jack Alcock has also provided critical strategic business support.  Both will continue to work with the organisation.

Dee Keshwara, Senior Project Manager at British Gas, on secondment to SBT, played a vital role in managing the investment process. In addition, a team from EY has already provided detailed analysis of User Voice’s customer base whilst Bain consultants have given strategy support.

SBT CEO Adele Blakebrough MBE said: “There are more than 300,000 people in prison or on probation in England and Wales and, staggeringly, 45 per cent are re-convicted within a year of release. That’s why it’s so important that our criminal justice system gives people the best chance of rehabilitation.”

“User Voice is already playing an extraordinary role in helping many prisons and probation services do just that.  We believe this new investment will help it provide even more life changing opportunities.”

User Voice was set up seven years ago by its CEO Mark Johnson an ex-offender and drug abuser. What makes the organisation particularly effective is that it is managed and run by a team with first-hand experience of the criminal justice system who have unique insight into how it works at a personal level.

Johnson said: “SBT’s investment is a game-changer for us. It will allow us to continue to work with some of the sharpest minds in British business to grow strategically and help even more prison and probation services work better for everyone involved.”

“We believe everyone deserves a real chance at turning their lives around. Giving people in prison and probation a voice so that there’s a real dialogue with those running the criminal justice system is a vital step in making that happen.”