Beyond Youth Custody | Nacro
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Beyond Youth Custody

Funded by The National Lottery Community Fund (previously Big Lottery Fund) as part of the Youth in Focus initiative, Beyond Youth Custody (BYC) was a six-year England-wide learning and awareness programme. BYC built a robust evidence base about what works in terms of effective resettlement for young people. This evidence base – rooted in the views of children and young people – was used to challenge, advance and promote better thinking in policy and practice for the effective resettlement of young people leaving in custody.

BYC was a partnership led by Nacro with three research and evaluation partners: ARCS (UK), the University of Salford, and the University of Bedfordshire.

The programme focussed on four key areas:

  • Producing robust evidence about what works
  • Giving young people a voice
  • Developing and promoting good practice
  • Identifying and communicating what needs to change.

Our approach

Rooted in the views and experiences of children and young people, our approach was to build evidence around those who had first-hand knowledge of the youth custody process.

Collating and producing evidence

We analysed existing and emerging research and explore under-researched issues to identify best practice that can be applied across diverse settings.

Through the findings from the latest research, policy and practice regarding the resettlement of young people, we produced thematic reports, focussing on providing insight and analysis of resettlement through a different lens. Our publications were designed to collate knowledge around engagement, gender-specific approaches, coping with releases, and the impact of gang involvement.

Consulting widely with young people, practitioners, and other stakeholders, we conducted interviews, focus groups, and created an archive of case studies, helping Youth in Focus project practitioners to evaluate and monitor their own service.

We actively encouraged young people who’ve been in custody to voice their opinion about resettlement services – because nobody understands the challenges better.

We did this by consulting with young people (up to the age of 25) before and after their release about their needs, expectations, and experiences of resettlement services. Asking young people who had been through resettlement services to help shape future policy and raise awareness of the issues affecting people leaving custody.

We also ensured those that wanted to tell their story had the platform to do so. Creating innovative blogs and shorts films for the BYC programme, showcasing their experiences, and using their insight to inform recommendations.

We worked with practitioners to improve resettlement practice and help them deliver effective services for young people leaving custody.

Using our evidence base, we steered policy and encouraged change that improved outcomes for young people leaving custody. We did this by identifying the practice implications of our research and provided ongoing feedback to practitioners about what works, creating sustainable delivery models that could be replicated and adopted on a national scale.

Establishing a robust feedback loop, we continue to feedback findings as part of a our research to refine and evolve policy and recommendations. Creating forums to share and test emerging findings, and help support practitioners to put BYC’s learning into practice. Our Beyond Youth Custody website became the host to a series of practitioners’ guides and resources.

We continued to build a network of stakeholders so that we could test findings, share best practice and communicate the lessons we learnt.

We did this by engaging with policy and decision makes through events, party conferences, all party groups, and responses to consultations. Purposely initiating and contributing to discussions that explored the challenges related to policy and practice.

Our campaigns involved offline and digital media, driving traffic and awareness through our online hub and establishing it as the go-to resource for exploring the issues related to young people leaving custody, and practical recommendations to resolve the challenges.

Our Beyond Youth Custody online hub was a resource referred to by the Youth Justice Board’s Resettlement Steering Group, Transition to Adulthood Alliance (T2A), and the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ).

Creating resources and practical recommendations were one of the key objectives for this project. We wanted to ensure that these insights and practitioners’ guides continued to be accessible and available for organisations and individuals working in the resettlement service.

You can explore our Beyond Youth Custody online hub here

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