This is an exciting time to lead Spark Inside's highly committed Board and work with a new Chief Executive as we embark on our next strategy to maximise our future impact.
Established in 2012, Spark Inside is an award-winning organisation running coaching programmes in prisons across London and the South East, to encourage rehabilitation and reduce reoffending. Reducing reoffending benefits all of us. It means there is less crime, fewer victims and safer communities.
We are one of the first organisations to take life coaching to 15-25-year-old boys and men, and to use systems coaching to bring together prison officers and prisoners in UK prisons. We have worked with over 1,000 prisoners and prison staff, and in eleven prisons, youth offender institutions and secure training centres across London and the South East.
The Spark Inside values sit at the heart of all we do – spark, impact, heart, learning, stickability and innovation are who we are. This translates across the way we work – with passion, commitment, kindness and openness.
It is an exciting time to join as we have a new Chief Executive, Vicki Cardwell, and we are about to embark on the next phase of our strategy. We want to welcome a Chair who is strongly aligned to our values and shares our ambition to create lasting positive change in young men’s lives.
Our resilience and passion can only take us so far. The challenge of increasingly restricted access to prisons, and the people living and working in them, is likely to have a long-lasting effect on how and where we deliver our programmes. Navigating government policy, increasing access to the criminal justice system and income generation/diversification are all ongoing challenges for Spark Inside. Despite these challenges, our finances are in a good position and we have a fabulous profile and fantastic reputation to further leverage.
You will find we have highly committed Board of Trustees and an experienced Vice-Chair to support you in leading the Board’s work. As Vicki has only recently taken over from our Founder, Baillie Aaron, she will need support to further establish her position as well as to navigate the current challenges facing the organisation.
As our next Chair you must bring an approach that allows creativity and innovation to flourish. We are seeking to provide services in new areas of the community and need to develop a strategy that will maximise our impact in the future. Our next chapter could be quite different.
It would be helpful, although not essential, if you understand the criminal justice system or the challenges people face when released. Lived experience would be fantastic, although your experience in governance, ability to chair the Board, develop creative strategy, lead the Trustees and guide our leadership team through the challenges ahead, have high importance.
We are serious about ensuring we have a diverse team which reflects the environment in which we work. We welcome applications from all who can meet the person specification, including those with lived experience of imprisonment and people from under-represented backgrounds.
As Chair for Spark Inside for six years, I feel privileged and proud to have been part of its extraordinary growth and development. I have learnt a great deal from those I have been working with over the years and I will miss them very much. It is truly a unique organisation delivering a much needed and very special service to our most complex young people in this country – those serving prison sentences.
The criminal justice sector is a complex and challenging arena to work and never more so than at this particular point in time. This role will need someone who has resilience, passion, strong communication skills, and a commitment to the values which we place at the heart of our organisation and represent the core ingredients of our success. Spark Inside has an excellent reputation in the sector as a credible, innovative and effective deliverer of remarkable coaching programmes that deliver sustained positive cultural change on prison wings and encourage young men in prison to change their lives and create a crime-free future.
Our priorities are to continue innovating and delivering high-quality programmes, informed by the very people they are being delivered to – the people and staff inside prisons. We are also working hard to become more financially sustainable – our decision to expand our impact nationally through socially licensing the Hero’s Journey is innovative and forward-thinking.
We have a very talented and, I believe, diverse and engaged and relatively new Board with three sub-committees: Philanthropy, Programmes and Finance, chaired by different trustees, with the intention of providing added knowledge and support to our staff team. We also have the very special addition of three non-voting ‘Board Fellows’ aged under 30, who provide a different and valuable perspective on our work. Good governance sits firmly within our core principles as a Board – we are always making sure we are up to date with any changes in charity legislation to ensure we are following best practice.
Very importantly, I know that it is relationships which are one of the core ingredients for a positive work environment. We have a new CEO who started at the beginning of the year, and it is absolutely critical that the new Chair establishes the best possible relationship with both her and the wider Board which is respectful, kind, supportive and has genuine professional integrity. I recommend that the new Chair joins the Association of Chairs, which is a great resource.
I am handing over a team of very special people who are having to work in unpredictable and challenging times. But I am confident that with the right chair in post, Spark Inside will continue to flourish. I hope this pack inspires you to apply for this exceptional role.
Roma Hooper OBE
We are one of the first organisations to take life coaching to 15-25-year-old boys and men, and to use systems coaching to bring together prison officers and prisoners in UK prisons.
Established in 2012, we have worked with over 1,000 prisoners and prison staff, and have worked in eleven prisons, youth offender institutions and secure training centres across London and the South East. We have won various awards, including a Commendation for the Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Reintegration 2018, and were shortlisted for the Charity Times Award Best New Charity 2016.
The Conversation is our systems coaching programme that brings together large groups of prison staff and prisoners in a facilitated group coaching process to enhance their relationships, improve empathy, and support sustained, positive cultural change on prison wings. Evaluations of our systems coaching programme show an 81% increase in positive prisoner behaviour.
Hero’s Journey™ is our structured life coaching programme for young people aged 15-25, in prison and through-the-gates, building their motivation to change, decreasing in-prison violence and creating a pro-social identity away from crime. Evaluation of our life coaching programme have shown it reduces reoffending by one third.
“The life coaches saw the spark in me that I hadn’t seen in myself for a long time, and it gave me hope that it wasn’t too late to change. Now I’ve left prison for the last time and I’m not going back. I know I can make it.”
Michael, 20*, Hero’s Journey™ participant. *Names and ages have been changed to protect identity
“I see a different approach in how they’re dealing with day-to-day issues. When you hear the officers’ sides and see what they’re going through, it’s a struggle, and you begin to think ‘you know what? It’s not their fault.'”
Ollie, 24*, The Conversation participant
Our prisons are not working, and are failing at protecting the public. Tackling reoffending benefits all of us and improves everyone’s lives – it means there is less crime and fewer future victims. It means we are all live in a safer society.
If you would like an informal conversation around the role, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:
Philippa Fabry | 07772 902071 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant Taylor | 07958 690184 | email@example.com
To apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (the supporting statement should be a maximum of two sides of A4) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification. It would also be helpful to provide an explanation of your interest and motivation in applying for this position within your supporting statement.
Please ensure that your application is emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org inserting “Spark Inside – Chair” into the subject field.
We will send an acknowledgement email within three working days from receipt. If you have not received a response, please contact Oliver Gardner on email@example.com | 07807 014772 or Kerry-Ann Charles on firstname.lastname@example.org | 07399 398905.
We are serious about ensuring we have a diverse workforce which reflects the environment in which we work. We welcome applications from all who can meet the person specification, including those with lived experience of imprisonment and people from under-represented backgrounds.
We wish to encourage applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, age or religion or belief. All applications will be considered solely on merit.
Disabled applicants are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the job, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.
Closing date: 9am, Monday 21st September 2020
First interviews: Tuesday 29th or Wednesday 30th September
Final interviews: w/c Monday 5th October (TBC)
Peridot and Spark Inside are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We would therefore be most grateful if you would complete this equality monitoring form.
The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practice. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the new Data Protection Act 2018 launched on 25 May 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.